How Are You Using iPad For Business?

We are getting many requests for help on iPad strategies for the enterprise. It's clear why. iPads are a tremendously empowering technology that any employee can buy. My colleague Andy Jaquith has a report coming real soon now on the security aspects of iPhones and iPads, and I'm launching research on case studies of iPad in the enterprise.

I am currently hearing about three business scenarios for iPad and tablets, but I'd love hear of your experiences, plans, concerns, or frustrations. Ping me at tschadler(at)forrester(dot)com. Here are the three scenarios:

  1. Sales people out in the field. This is the "Hollywood pitch deck" scenario. The iPad, particularly with a cover that can prop it up a bit, is a great way to scroll through slides to show a customer or demonstrate a Web site. In one situation, I heard that there's a competition brewing for who can manipulate the Web site upside down (so the client across the table sees it right side up) without making any mistakes. Now there's a new skill for sales: upside down Web browsing.
  2. Executives on an overnight trip. No, iPad doesn't replace a laptop (at least not yet; more on this below). But it's great for email, calendar, reviewing documents, and presenting PDF or Keynote decks.
  3. Warehouse managers, retail floor staff, medical staff, and anybody else that needs real access to apps while on their feet. iPad's form factor, battery life, mobile Internet access, panoply of applications, and touchscreen abilities make it a great device for these typically frustrated and under-served employees. Why retail floor staff? Because then a customer can be served with a custom order while they're looking at the too-small-but-way-cool sweater on the rack.

So what can't iPad (yet) do? Here are my top three requests:

  1. Full Microsoft Office support. Microsoft's missing a huge opportunity to build apps that can create and edit common documents. Tablets are going to be huge, but Microsoft's Office business will have to device-agnostic to avoid getting displaced on it. Today, I have to use Keynote to make a presentation. But I'd rather use PowerPoint. The Office Web Apps products could solve this problem fairly easily. Until we get that, iPad will never replace a laptop.
  2. Mouse support. For pete's sake, I can use a bluetooth keyboard, why can't I use a bluetooth mouse? That would make it a full authoring tool. Until we get that, people will suffer finger contortions and stiff necks reaching over their keyboard to touch the screen.
  3. More and better business apps. This is mostly a matter of waiting for the market to build great iPad apps. We have some great ones already: Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Email, and I'm sure a whole lot more that you'll tell me about. But until we get access to corporate applications, employees will still have to log around their laptops.

I'm working on a report for the Fall on using tablets for business, and I'll be presenting on this empowering technology at our Content & Collaboration Forum in October, so please let me know what you're interested in learning.

Alos, please let me know how you are using iPad for business. What features do you want? What other tablets are you excited about?


Microsoft Office Apps

Since one of the best use cases is for field sales people to use the iPad to show presentations 1:1 with their clients, it is particularly frustrating that Microsoft does not support PowerPoint on the iPad. We have a large library of PowerPoint slides that we would like the salesforce to be able to use on the iPad, but they do not convert cleanly to Keynote, and our salesforce would have to learn a new application (keynote) as well as still know the Ms Office app's on their laptops. Another challenge in this scenario is how the salesforce can download the available/approved presentations from our intranet directly to their iPads. There is no file transfer/download built into the O/S capabilities.

That is really interesting!

So we have people wanting Microsoft office support on an iPad?!

You have office on the Mac but I don't think the iPad is the same operating system! Why not ask Apple who make the device to support their own iWorks software that supports word processing, spreadsheets and presentations?

In terms of Microsoft support- you haven't got the full blown version of Office but you can use Office Web applications through Office Live.

My thoughts are that although the iPad is useful in many situations its not going to get widespread adoption becuase it doesn't use the business software that we use everyday.

I do not expect hardware manufacturers to hang around after the appeal and success of the iPad. Expect to see slates and tablets from Dell and HP etc. that supports windows 7.

Now although Cisco have a pseudo-device called Cuis, (I say pseudo device because I am not sure people will be trading in their laptops for an Android device that costs around $1000,) I do like their idea of a docking station.

You come into the office, dock and the slate/tablet becomes a "monitor" and charges, connecting to a keyboard and mouse. Then, when you have a meeting or need to shoot off, you undock and the device goes into sleep mode until you need it.

And of course, support for all the business software you use- probably provided as a service. (not sure I can install all my business software on a slate!) That is where I think Microsoft are excelling- Outlook Web Access, Communicator Web Access, Office Web Apps etc.

I'm still not sure if slates/tablets will replace the PC or laptop though..

Interesting thoughts

Anybody have experience with Office Web Apps on iPad????

Outlook Web Access

You can also use outlook web access and communicator web access for email and corporate instant messaging.


Ted, get with the greatest presentation program: Keynote. PPT stole so much from Keynote. Why not use the superior original. It's some work to convert your library perfectly to KEY, but do it. You'll never regret it, and your audiences will swoon about the good looks on screen. Who knows, one day you may even be surrounded by Macs, like most Ivy-League students and industry tyros today.

Darn, I wish it were that

Darn, I wish it were that easy. Here in corporate Forrester, we're stuck with ever-changing PPT slides and lots of back and forth work on slide decks. So we'd all have to move to Keynote, and that just ain't gonna happen. But I agree that keynote decks look great.

Any Others Wanting MS Office on iPad?

Great comment, Lisa. Anybody else facing this?

Office support


I heard on a web conference last night that there is a company which offers Office 2007 and Flash functionality, from the cloud, on tablets. I don't remember the name of the company, sorry.
However, the point was that you might see tablets in the enterprise space beign used more like thin clients, running virtualized desktops.

Was it Citrix Receiver for iPad?

I know Citrix Receiver runs on iPad. Was it that?

More here:


Slides in PDF format

How about just converting the slides into PDF format and displaying them on the iPad this way? Ok you may miss out on animation and build-ups but they are overrated and quite often rather annoying anyhow.

Slides converted to PDF

If the PowerPoint Slides are converted to PDF in order to display properly on an iPad, then the field sales person using the slide deck can not personalize the title slide with the name of the company he/she is presenting to and his/her name. There probably are not a lot of other changes they regularly make to the standard decks except to skip some of the slides. So, I am still hoping MS Office will end up on an iPad.

What are your tricks for getting PDF onto iPad?

It's certainly one way to do it, but I have to admit that I still struggle to get PDF files onto iPad so that I can display them. What's your favorite way to do that?

Getting PDFs on the iPad

I use the GoodReader app - it is great for this. It provides a local URL on port 8080 you type into your computer browser and upload files to your iPad. From there you can view, manage, share, and email docs on the iPad.

Most simple option -> Email

Email them to yourself as attachments, then open (and store / manage) them in iBooks. Maybe not elegant but easy and works.

There are also plenty of 3rd party apps that transfer files to the iPad but haven't tried them.

Oh there's one other option that works well: use Dropbox, syncs via the cloud, and has an iPad app.

Trying DropBox

Andre: Thanks for the tip. I'll give DropBox a try. Anybody else using DropBox for this kind of file transfer to smart devices? How about iBooks as a display program? Thanks, Ted

File Transfer

We're using GoodReader to transfer files from computer to iPad - works great!


Love dropbox, just downloaded Kollaborator which is supposed to bring down the dropbox file to iPad so I'm not needing to download it each time.

PDF readers, etc. work too and then usb save to ipad via sync in itunes

Email PDFs to iPad; Use In iBooks

Thanks for the tip, Andre! Ted

Great for trade shows

We got so excited about how effective the iPad can be at trade shows we blogged about it:

And yes, we converted some slides to PDF and emailed them to the devices. Not elegant but it works. Another option whenever you have connectivity is to view the PDF or slides off your web site through a browser. Our sales people can then switch between browser tabs containing slides and a live demo of our software.

The really interesting thing--to me--is the way that the iPad form factor un-tethers the people working the booth and makes for more intimate contact with prospects. Instead of big overhead displays--that people watch at a distance with strained necks--give each of your people an iPad and they can stand right next to the prospect (no need to queue for an available machine to do a demo).


Great example: empowered sales people

Stephen: Thanks for this great example and picture. Check it if you're looking to understand how sales can be more effective with an iPad than a big demo screen at a trade show.


iPads for trade shows

We at nGenera used this with great success at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. We were doing demos of our software (web app) on the iPads ... allowed us to effectively double our booth size and increase our demo staff by 5x. It is a great device as well as you can have a more engaged discussion with a prospect via the piece of glass in your hands vs. a computer screen on the wall.

I-Pad for Marketing

I am using the i-Pad for website site planning when meeting with clients and I have also been using it as a digital portfolio of marketing/creative samples. It is great to have all of our samples for different market niches at my fingertips. I have incorporated the i-Pad into my PadFolio for use in meetings. The calendar function is great for talking schedules with clients as it is large enough for a small group of people to see. I also use DropBox and GoodReader as well as Pages.

Great use of iPad for customer engagement

Kerry, great examples. Thanks for sharing. Which PadFolio do you use? Ted

I-Pad for Marketing

Haven't found one I like yet. Waiting for the
"deluxe" Folio model that they are in development on. There aren't any good options out there that incorporate paper, pen and cards in my opinion. The only ones I could find were really large and bulky.

Keynote for iPad: Need help

I'm a Director of marketing for a firm and our dealers are moving to iPads for in-home presentations of the products they sell. Need to convert PowerPoints to Keynote for iPad and then we lose our "modularity" ability within the presentation as Keynote for iPad doesn't allow hyperlinks to other slides, no custom slideshow features like Powerpoint,etc.

Anybody else facing this?


Why not try DocToGo instead.

DocsToGo and hyperlinks/video?

I downloaded the docstogo app and it crashes a lot, can't even get to test whether hyperlinks or videos work

Sure seems slow - any superusers out there can help?



I saw you excerpt in a Info World article and ask if you have tried any of the following apps for viewing Microsoft docs, spread sheets, pdf or power point on the IPad.
Office Hd
Office Plus

Mouse? On a touch-based device??

I'm struggling to figure out how would a mouse work on an iPad. The (multi)touch-based OS does NOT have an arrow pointer, so that you could move it around with a mouse. There is no chance Apple would ever want to implement it. They finally figured out how to navigate a GUI system by directly touching it, so why would they want to go back to the mouse paradigm again?

I couldn't agree more, and yet . . .

Predrag: I'm sure you're right. But there is one scenario that would be much improved: leaving the laptop at home while retaining the content authoring/data analysis capabilities that I love.

And also to use Citrix Receiver or Jump Desktop or Remote Control to access corporate apps (thanks, Sarah Rotman Epps).

For the record, I use an external mouse and keyboard on my laptop, too.

Tough problem to solve.

The Future of Apple Computing

It seems to me that Apple has chosen the path of their future computing, and it looks like it will be mouseless and (mostly) keyboardless. I think their goal is to migrate all of their Macs with a display (i.e. iMacs and MacBooks/Pros) to a keyboardless, pointerless system running iOS. They have successfully dragged their important App developers (Adobe, Microsoft, etc) along on OS changes before (64k to PPC, System 9 to OS X, PPC to Intel, 32bit to 64bit, etc), so I'm sure that there will soon be a full-blown version of Adobe CS7 (or CS8) for iOS, completely adapted for multi-touch use.

My guess is, for better of for worse, Apple is determined to retire Mac OS X and consolidate ALL of their hardware to iOS, with a multi-touch UI. I'm sure you'll still be able to use a keyboard (for those who write a lot), and I'm sure there will be some more precise pointing devices than your finger that you could use on those (multi)touch displays, but a mouse/tablet pointing device will likely be forever gone.

The future of the mouse for Apple

Apple's first "killer app" was desktop publishing. Looking at your thoughts above, I am having trouble imagining that Apple would look to ultimately get rid of a mouse (or track ball) for all of their devices if they still want to be in the laptop and desktop markets. I know that I could not use an iPad to create a presentation with any kind of detailed graphics - I can barely get the cursor positioned exactly with a mouse today.
I do think that the external keyboard will become more and more optional, but I hope they still provide for the option to plug one. When I am typing up a paper or long document, the external keyboard is still the most accurate and most comfortable to use.

agree on the mouse, but ...

think about the multi-touch experience. by simply pinching and opening your fingers you rapidly zoom in to great detail, which makes it easier to find a point. the above commenter's point on fingers not being precise enough (even with zooming in) is still true, but not sure that the mouse is what the answer will be.

Apple is clearly going away from the mouse with the intro of the Magic Trackpad recently.

Multi-touch design

I think the mouse will be dead. If Apple does end up killing Mac OS X in favour of iOS on the pro desktop, they may provide some optional accessories for more accurate touch input (a stylus or something similar), for use with InDesign, Phoroshop, Illustrator, AutoCAD or similar. Same with keyboards; you'll always have an option to use one with an iOS device (you actually already have such an option, with any bluetooth keyboard).

I think the primary point here is that they want to shift away from keyboard-mouse-display interface to display-only interface, with optional input hardware for those who need better accuracy and precision.

ipad app for delivery routing

I run a shredding compnay. Am using Google Calander to set the route and the driver do have the maps thay can get. Does anyone know of an app for this?

Using the iPad for business.

Scott, take a look at iDispatcher from
It's a work order/job tracking app that can sync with an optional desktop version. The user can capture signatures, enter parts used on the job and email PDF work orders/invoice when the jobs done.

I would wish ipad to come

I would wish ipad to come with a decent pen (normal size and weight) that would enable me to handwrite notes on office and prf documents. The pen should be able to write thin letters, for added clearness and should feel like a good fountain pen. That would make life good If this already exists, please tell me where I can buy this.

To hold non-linear, interactive presentations

For presentations on the iPad try the iPad app called Picture Link.

Picture Link enables you to link images on your iPad. Use it to hold interactive non-linear presentations on your iPad, no matter what presentation program you are used to. Develop iPad application prototypes without any programming skills or simply develop picture stories that have a tap-enabled navigation.

Demo video on

iPad security

If you are using the Apple iPad at work or at trade shows, you can protect it from theft with the STAYPad Security Case from Doss Industries.

The Model K2.0 also covers the HOME button to prevent the interruption of your presentation.

All metal construction, the STAYPad can be secured to a table with a cable or screws.

For more information, visit