iOS devices at work…who, where, how??

So, how are iOS devices being used in the workplace today?  Most organizations are using them “out of the box”, leveraging features and Apps that come with the device.  They are also relying heavily upon the wealth of Apps publicly available “off the shelf” in the App Store.   Relatively speaking, a very small number of organizations have progressed to custom developing solutions to fit their unique needs.  Education is one industry going with what’s available out-of-the-box and off-the-shelf.   The most notable being Long Island University who have already deployed more than 6,000 iPads to students and faculty.  Plans are afoot to increase this to 12,000 by next year.   Research via the internet, note taking, reading e-books, drawing and education-based gaming are common in K-12 and Higher Education environments.   There’s no shortage of common use Apps available out-of-the-box and off-the-shelf to satisfy this purpose, offsetting the need to custom develop Apps for the time being.  Some educational institutions, however, are starting to move in this direction.  The University of Saskatchewan and Red Deer College in Canada, Wiltshire College in the United Kingdom and Western Oregon University in the United States have all developed custom iPhone Apps for their parent, teacher and student body.   These Apps provide access to school resources such as staff directories, campus maps and news, course schedules and curriculum, etc.

Other early adopters of iOS devices are sales teams from all walks.  The iPad, specifically, is proving to be a game changer for sales.   Its form and function is perfectly suited for a sales force on the go who may not always have the luxury of meeting customers in a boardroom setting where a polished presentation can be provided through the use of high-end audio-visual equipment.  iOS devices, and the iPad in particular, bring this level of polish to any setting, weather the boardroom or the local coffee shop.  It’s completely scalable and, of course, mobile.   General Electric has rolled out nearly 2,000 iPads to its sales force and has custom-developed Apps that allow employees to approve purchase orders on-the-spot. And Mercedez-Benz Financial, after piloting iPads on the showroom floor at 40 of its dealerships, is now purported to be rolling out iPads to all 350 of its dealerships to enable sales teams to provide on-the-spot financing for customers.   Customers can then download the Mercedez-Benz Financial iPhone App to manage their accounts and make payments.  Customers have made more than $5 million in car payments through the App already.   SAP has successfully rolled out more than 2,000 iPads to sales, marketing and pre-sales teams and is now planning to equip all 17,000 of its employees with iPads.   Wells Fargo took more than 2 years studying the iPhone before allowing its staff to use the device for work functions but took less than 2 weeks to decide on the iPad or similar use.   They see iOS devices as a critical component of their customer account management strategy moving forward.

Service industries, such as food, hospitality and shipping, keen to differentiate themselves in over-saturated marketplaces have been quick to adopt iOS devices.   Enterprising restaurants, such as Global Mundos Tapas in Australia, Chicago Cut Steakhouse in, yes, Chicago and South Gate in New York City’s 5-star Jumeirah Essex House hotel are all incorporating iPads into their operations, providing patrons digital menus and wine lists in lieu of traditional print.   A novel way to increase customer patronage.  Some have even gone so far as to allow ordering from the iDevice.   Au Bon Pain, Chipotle Mexican Grill, the newly launched Stacked specialty burger chain and a myriad of pizza ‘shops’, the most notable being Pizza Hut and Dominos, being just a few.   Pizza Hut claimed to have processed more than $1 million in orders through their iPhone App within 3-months of launching it and Dominos Australia claimed $2 million in orders within that same time frame.  Hotel chains are another service industry snapping up iOS devices for internal operations.   Holiday Inn has a pilot running where their downloadable iPhone App serves, amongst other things, as a door key.   Hyatt has equipped its concierge desks with iPads, providing a novel and convenient way to provide guests directions, restaurant recommendations, updates on local events, etc.   At Hyatt-owned boutique Andaz hotels, guests are greeted by staff with iPads equipped to swipe credit-cards, capture signatures and encode room keys on-the-spot, allowing guests to go directly to their rooms.  The 5-Star Plaza Hotel in New York City has just equipped all 650 rooms and suites with iPads.   A custom-developed Plaza Hotel iPad App allows guests to order room service, make restaurant reservations, request wake up calls, check airline schedules, even print boarding passes and most ‘cool of all’ control room lighting, heating and air conditioning.   And finally, shipping service providers like Fed Ex, UPS and Canada Post all have iPhone Apps available to the general public for free download to track shipments, and in some cases even place a shipment.   A classic example of extending existing capability already available on a company website to a mobile device and capturing new marketshare,  the consumer on the go.

Then there is healthcare.  An industry that has seen explosive uptake of iOS devices.  Particularly in physician owned and operated clinics where there’s maximum freedom in choosing technologies.   And why are a large number of health professionals choosing iOS devices over other devices?   Form-factor.   The no-instructions-needed, intuitive-to-use design that serves up meaningful health information anywhere, anytime.  Physician-purchased iOS devices typically remain in physicians hands as they manage their time between clinic and hospital.   And physician power and influence in hospitals are considerable particularly in comparison to other industries.   Hospital administrators are being forced to take a closer look at internal mobile device policies.  iOS devices “are coming in” whether they like it or not.  The Ottawa Hospital is one hospital not waiting for this phenomenon to hit them, choosing to proactively get ahead of the curve.   After an initial pilot, The Ottawa Hospital is now deploying thousands of iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices to all its physicians and nurses.   It’s not only the largest hospital iPad deployment globally but is in the top 10 iPad deployments of any industry.   After considering a number of off-the-shelf electronic medical record (EMR) solutions, The Ottawa Hospital decided to custom-build an EMR iPad App.  Another Canadian hospital quick to adopt iOS devices is Mt Sinai Hospital in Toronto who have also custom-developed an App called VitalHub that provides hospital staff access to clinical data, reference material and patient information stored in more than 65 systems throughout the hospital.   Also well entrenched in the iOS device camp is RehabCare that operates 35 acute care hospitals and rehab facilities throughout the US. It has an on-going program developing mission-critical iOS apps for some 8,000 iPod touches, 700 iPhones and 120 iPads in the hands of administrative staff and caregivers.

As can be seen, no shortage of companies and organizations starting to emerge from internal ‘pilots’ to full-out, wide-scale deployments with customized, rich mobile Apps to further enhance and enable their business.

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