With the introduction of a second, (or third) device which requires attention, care and feeding into anyone’s workday, the potential of having a productivity drain versus a productivity boost needs to be a concern. This is a very real concern with the iPad, especially if it is supplementing a PC or Mac or iPhone already being used, which it most certainly will be.
The iPad is a low maintenance device itself, which is a key selling point. Apple’s engineering of the device with bundled software and carefully architected ecosystem of applications, almost guarantees the user a “turn it on and it works” experience with a minimum of fuss associated with what I would call basic infrastructure needs (such as virus scanning, disk defragmentation and weekly patching). What is at issue then?
The challenge is that if you truly wish to integrate the iPad into the way you work and manage your day, it must integrate into all of your daily tasks and you must establish a clear division of labor between the iPad and other devices (PCs, Macs, iPhones) to insure that duplicate entry of information is minimized. The implication is that certain information must seemlessly move between the array of tools being used and unless this occurs, double entry of information and redundant management of information and parameters will drive productivity in the wrong direction. The only answer is “the cloud”, and a high level of diligence is required to insure that all applications chosen for the iPad allow for maintenance of information in the cloud with sharing across multiple platforms and devices enabled. A simple example of a potential productivity drain which is easily avoided is the maintenance of browser bookmarks. All of us have a list of favorites which we use to navigate the web on a daily basis, and, for most of us, this list changes regularly with new additions. If you shift a majority, but not all of your browsing to the iPad, those bookmarks must be established on that device and then, to insure productivity, be synched on a regular basis everywhere you need access to the same bookmarks. Fortunately for this example, MobileMe performs exactly this function, and by implementing it, one can keep their bookmarks in synch – but this is just the tip of the iceberg where information and key personal parameters need to be in synch across your personal technology ecosystem. My next post will eloborate on this relative to apps available for the iPad which implement this well.