IT and financial people are reluctant to pervasively support iPad (and other tablets) without ROI analysis and other detailed productivity assessments. Here’s what I think about that…
Does your company (or any company for that matter) examine all sides of the equation before giving employees desktop PCs? Or before issuing laptops to 80% of the organization?
I didn’t think so. And why don’t we do that? Simple answer – it goes without saying. It’s one of those “no-brainers” – you can’t work in business without a PC. Just as you can’t be productive without a desk, a pencil, a telephone, and maybe some paper and a few paper clips. Anyone up for a quick ROI analysis on staplers? ;-)
Of course not – it would be silly. Let me help you through this quickly so you can avoid reading the next five lengthy paragraphs in my rant.
In less than 28 months, tablets will be as common in business as PCs, laptops, desks, and paper clips. No one will be able to imagine doing their job [as well as they do], without a tablet.
Technologies and business products of various types have emerged in the “goes without saying” category to become those basic, standard issue products that without question, provide a productivity advantage for tens of millions of workers. Some of the “no-brainers”, such as email, took many years to emerge as foundational productivity enhancers. And others took even longer.
Perhaps you remember when email was forbidden in the enterprise. Or maybe you recall the great debate about pervasive Internet access, instant messaging (that was a fun one), or cell phones for workers. In each of these cases, business leaders flat-out opposed and eventually caved only after exhaustive ROI case studies and competitors made it apparent, these tools were not only productive, but necessary.
All the while… employees demonstrated through unsanctioned and self-funded experiments, how businesses could use these tools to effectuate clear competitive advantages. Companies who were reluctant to follow their lead rapidly became statistics in the wake of business disruption. Those that acted quickly, and which were able to recognize a “no-brainer” that would stick, set the stage for higher performance and hyper-competitive advantage. The few that had the capacity to recognize the next “no-brainer”, avoided disruption and typically emerged with increased market share.
In 1910 most executives were reluctant to deploy telephones across their companies for fear that people would just chat all day. Your commentary about iPad is simply the next century’s equivalent of that reluctance.
While the technologies have changed, business leaders have not – they still believe things like iPads will be nice toys that will distract their workers and will be unlikely to provide clear business benefit. What they fail to realize (decade after decade and tech advance after tech advance) is that the vast majority of employees are fundamentally good people who are careful about their work and who care greatly about performing well and being successful in their chosen fields.
Employers who have distrust for workers and the introduction of tools that can also be used as “toys”, have a far bigger problem that they need to address at the hiring level. If you are reluctant to hand out iPads and smart mobility tools like Tic-Tacs, you are fundamentally recognizing that your workforce is comprised of team-B and team-C players – people who have no self-control or driving interest in being successful. These are the same people watching Hulu on their desktop and laptop PCs and engaging in endless chat sessions with family and friends on their smart phones hidden carefully in their top desk drawers.
One CFO comments…
“So all sides of the equation must be examined to determine the predicted benefit before just jumping in to such a significant capital outlay.”
I don’t agree. The “predicted benefit” phrase is an interesting choice of words. You don’t know how an iPad-based, full color video presentation will influence or compel a customer to buy more product. You don’t know how investors will react to a wifi presentation using Prezi will influence your audience. You have no idea how a business development exec or a shop floor manager will use iPad to steal back idle moments 20 seconds at a time to amass more than 11 extra hours of time per month that she can use that time to tackle a strategic planning task that never gets done, or to spend some time at home with her kids.
You cannot predict the benefit of computing mobility any more than you can predict the benefit of paper clips. But some people can recognize a “no-brainer” when they see one. ;-)
If you fear iPads being used as toys in your firm, you should also consider taking away their laptops and desktops.
Just sayin’ …