Thursday, February 18, 2010

Apple's iPad - Will it Help Small Businesses?

With Apple’s brand new iPad scheduled to be released in the imminent future, the general public and media are fawning over this innovative new product. And why wouldn’t they? Apple has a long history of making cutting-edge products with tons of success. Who doesn’t love their iPod? The iPad seems like a really cool device with a flashy multi-touch screen and vibrant colours, making it a whole new way to experience email, the web, photos and videos.

As much as it will likely have huge consumer success, how will small businesses react to the iPad? Some small business owners are already concerned over the iPad being a huge pain when employees and clients start requesting to use it. The two biggest reasons for concern are Support Issues and Security Headaches.

Support Issues

Most companies’ IT departments are already stretched thin keeping up with the technology they already have – such as PCs, Macs, Blackberries, and iPhones – if they even have an internal IT department. Many small businesses do not, leaving non-tech savvy people to learn as they go or pay for expensive external support. Often, there just aren’t the resources to support new technology. So when an employee or client starts using their new iPad for work and have connection or printing issues, the small business owner is forced to step up and help so they remain productive. Which in turn means incurring more IT costs, either from their IT department or from an outsourced IT support network. And since this is such a new product, the turnaround time will likely be much longer (and thus more expensive) as the team learns how to support the iPad.

Security Headaches

New iPad users are bound to be so swept-away with the media ability of their new toys that they will likely forget about the new security issues that will come along with it. With a new way to access data on their networks, it opens up new channels for security breaches. When things start to go terribly wrong – disappearing databases, stolen information – there will be downtime while the problem gets sorted out. Downtime equals lost productivity which equals more incurred costs.

Now, this is not to say these problems will not be handled. They will. Apple is probably working around the clock to get support members trained and security up to snuff. The iPad will be a consumer hit, and justly so. But for a business owner, it all comes down to Return on Investment. And as it stands, it doesn’t look like the iPad will be on the profitable side of the fence.

If you want to read more about this subject, please read the complete Business Week article

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