iPad-Key to the paperless office?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by clyde2801, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    I worked in a law firm where almost everything paper was scanned to a networked hard drive. Anyone sitting at a terminal could pull up a copy of any document for any client; there was no "Who has the McLaughlin file for Tulsa county?!?".

    The weak spot in the system was taking documents to court. They had to be printed up, placed in a folder, copied., etc.

    The iPad with 3G would be nice for pulling up statutes, court cases, etc., available in my state online, not to mention responding to e-mail., etc., during down time in the courtroom. Easy to use, portable, battery life would be great for this.

    What I'm wondering is how easy would it to be to move a few folders containing PDF's to and from the iPad. I'd love to be able to move a couple of folders to it from my iMac the night before court instead of lugging around a briefcase. And, if something unexpected comes up, I'm thinking that a legal assistant could use dropbox or mobile me to give me almost instant access to another folder, file, or document.

    How practical would it be to expect this? Also, could you use the ipod-usb cable to move a document from it to another computer? Any chance a usb access of any kind could be provided for a flash drive?

    And, no locking indentation for a cable? Really? It's too hard to put a frakkin' hole in the side or back? :mad: It's too big to stick in your pocket, but definitely too valuable to leave lying on a table.

    I'm anxiously wondering if this could be the key to a mobile paperless office. It'll be interesting to see if this could become a vital must have for thousands of mobile professionals, or if apple is content to merely make cool little toys and gadgets for home consumers.

    Anyone's advice or opinions would be welcomed. Thanks.
  2. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    What can the iPad achieve that a Macbook (air/pro) with a 3G stick can't ?

    The technology already exists, and in fact given the technical issues that you mention about the iPad for this use, is better than the iPad.

    The only slight issue is battery life but courtrooms have sockets.
  3. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    I think we have to wait for older generations of people to die off or retire first, before thier can be paperless offices.

    I mean how many business require you to Fax them stuff still? I'm always like WTF can I e-mail it to you?
  4. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Battery life is part of the problem, but more importantly is form factor. Picking up a laptop and walking to another cubicle or something to show someone something or ask them about it isn't very practical. The iPad will be nice for that.

    I really hope that Apple or at least a 3rd party makes some software to print to the iPad as if it were a wireless printer and store the resulting files as PDFs.

    To the OP's comment: sounds like the iPad has a shared folder setup where connecting it to a desktop will let you drag and drop files onto it which any app can access, so your situation (where all docs are digital already) should be pretty straight forward.
  5. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    I would love iBooks app if it supports user's collection of PDF (doesn't appear to be). And it would be great if Mac OS X can print to iPad instead of printer.

    Having said that, iPhone apps like Dropbox allows some of these functionalities already. Just drop .DOC and .PDF files onto Dropbox folder on PC or Mac and the iPhone app will sync and let you read them on the go.
  6. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    I'm really interested in this as well... anything pointing you towards thinking they won't allow you to manage your own content? Not disagreeing with you, just looking for more info.
  7. Dammit Cubs macrumors 68000

    Dammit Cubs

    Jul 31, 2007
    You are exactly right. People don't get that, yes you can use your macbook. But the 1.5lb 9.7 inch PORTABLE device makes the transition much better.

    I'm expecting to use my ipad in my work office during meetings as opposed to bringing my laptop.

    Goal: integration, efficiency, natural.
  8. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    It's a little nerdy but I remembered reading that when the Palm Pilot was being developed they used to carry around little wooden blocks that they would pull out and pretend to work on. So, I took my neoprene netbook sleeve, which is just about the same size as the iPad, stuffed it with enough paper to make the thing a little stiff and weigh about 1.5lbs, stuck a sheet of text on the front and then handled it like I would a tablet, or really like I would a sheet of paper. It was surprisingly natural. I think this could really be a paper replacer, given the proper infrastructure.

    On that note, I need to wall mount my wife's NeatReceipt scanner... and look into building a cheap book imager as well... ;)
  9. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Nothing definitive but none of the hands-on articles mention such capability. Hopefully, it would do more than letting you buy and read books purchased from iBookstore, but there has not been any info otherwise.
  10. DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    I had the same thought about 2 hours after the iPad announcement and I think the iPad could be the start to realizing the promise of the paperless office, because of the form factor.
  11. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Ya, that would be incredibly lame. This thing needs a good document manager/viewer and it makes sense to bundle it all up into the ebook reader app... I guess we will see.
  12. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    This is one of those situations where you think ya this would be perfect for the iPad until you realise a very important problem. You would think Apple would be intent on providing the right ecosystem for the iPad to succeed but based on our present knowledge, they haven't. The iPad as it presently stands is about as useful in the workplace as a co-worker gone postal!

    Without the ability to multi-task its professionally almost useless. If an office worker cannot send/receive email while also using something like iWorks and maybe another small app then whats the point???

    Typical office worker with an iPad (until it can multi-task):

    1) Oh I need to work on document X...launch work specific app...working on app...iPad rocks...this app is perfect for my needs.

    2) Dammit I forgot to email my boss...close work app.

    3) Open email app...send email...back to work.

    4) Close email app...open work app and continue working.

    5) Need to pull some info from a website...close work app again!

    6) Meanwhile boss replies with an urgent message...does the iPad notify you while the email app is off?

    7) Open browser...eh now what do I do...DOH!

    8) I know I'll turn off the iPad and go back to my desktop/laptop.

    Every office worker on Earth needs at a minimum a work app, email app and web browser open at all times. Until the iPad multi-tasks and multi-tasks perfectly, it will never take off as a work product. Most IT departments will just buy HP Slates instead, not because the HP will be better but because it is better suited to productivity.
  13. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    i have designed a ipad desk...im going to patent it too...well because it seems anything flies at the patent office these days.

    basically its a desk built out of ipads for the top.....12 ipads in total.

    i can multitask....i have 12 cores of cpu....tons of screen real-estate....

    i almost want to really make this so i can say i did....
  14. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    Excellent...I'll take 10 of these magical desks:)
  15. MTI macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2009
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Everytime an industry leader says "paperless office" I reflexively call my broker to up shares in Boise Cascade.
  16. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    If you were to use iPad in the office, it wouldn't replace the computer sitting on your desk. You will continue to use your computer to email and write documents. iPad will be more useful in the meeting rooms: taking notes, checking email, or doing presentation.

    It could also be used as an extension of your computer, a bit similar to how secondary monitor is used, but obviously more functional.
  17. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    It's a fair point but I and many others who work in IT have a few practical problems with the current iPad hardware and OS. How will it integrate into the workplace effectively. My thoughts might well be blown out of the water if an OS update or hardware changes fixes some of my main concerns.

    For arguments sake here's a hypothetical situation that would cause serious problems for an employee using an iPad that would not occur with even the cheapest, tackiest and ugliest netbook:

    1) You bring your iPad into a new meeting room on a different floor for a vital presentation with some execs. The iPad is brilliant for this presentation but...they ask you an off topic question that requires Document X to answer. Now you didn't sync Document X earlier because you didn't realise you would need it for this presentation. Now does the iPad allow you to copy Document X wirelessly or does it require you to physically sync to your desktop? If you cannot connect to your desktop wirelessly to copy the doc then you are left looking like an idiot to these execs.

    2) Same situation but you don't know the wifi login or maybe the wifi network is down for this area of the building but you know the wired network login. If only you had an ethernet port onboard like every single cheap as chips netbook you would be able to get your required document in seconds.

    3) Again using the same situation again...your asked for a particualr file that does not have an iPad app suitable for this filetype. Yet every cheap netbook or Macbook in the entire building has the required app installed on them. So your left standing there with an $829 multi-touch paperweight.

    4) Same situation again...your presentation is the work of two people and the other person has made changes in the hour since you last synced your iPad. So logically she emails the updated file to you as an attachment. Does the iPad allow you to open that attachment through the email app on the iPad and allow you to use that for your presentation?

    Do you need to bring your iPad for what it's good at but also bring your laptop for what the iPad is poor at? Doesn't that defeat the point of even bothering with the iPad in the first place! The iPad needs to make a laptop redundant in this hypothetical situation but in it's present form it doesn't do this.

    I don't want people to get the wrong impression I love the idea of the iPad and would have no problems spending $829 or whatever it will cost here in Ireland but just not on this current hardware and the OS as it is right now. Add in the fundamental missing hardware and software features and maybe push the screen a bit and Apple have a brilliant solution for portable computing in the workplace!
  18. spammerhamster macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2010

    6) Seriously. Have you ever used an iphone? Push messages?

    And how much difference is there between "click home key, open app, wait for app to appear" vs "mouse over taskbar/dock, click minimized tap, wait for prog to appear"

    Imagine yourself working on a monitor with 1024x768 resolution. I bet you're even hiding your dock/taskbar, so you have to wait for it to appear before you can even click the prog you're looking for.

    I also work in IT. And I remember the first requirement of any IT-job is to be flexible. As in,

    Your fault for not preparing enough. With at least 16GB of space you couldn't put all relevant info on your machine? Luckily you have it in your mailbox, so you can just pop it up and open the attachment.
    Oh wait! Almost forgot your co-worker just sent you an invitation for this hot stripjoint afterworks. Better not open the mailbox in front of your client.
    No sweats, your boss paid for your mobileme account, so you just swoosh it up. Ah damn.... forgot you put the file in a folder named "annoying bitch at company X". Not gonna use that then.

    Feeling like a complete dork, you use safari to login to your company's intranet and get it from there.. phew...

    after meeting, you pull up "notes" and set a reminder for yourself to clean up your organizational mess

    Just wish there is a working LANcable there. Your wasted boss used it to strangle during last friday's boozefest... Ah well, guess you ask your secretary to stop taking notes on her macbook and pull up the doc from the network.
    Afterwards you fire her for not reminding you to prepare all your docs in advance. Someone needs to be the scapegoat.


    You fire that guy who did not prepare the file so you can work with. After your boss yelled at you for not preparing beforehand.

    Phew, luckily you got a lesson emailing on iphone OS 101 this morning, and remember that you could open attachments.

    It makes you look cool in front of your client. All these other innovative and up2datewithtech-companies he went too are still presenting their products on a 10lbs notebook running windows XP.

    Adapt to the situation. Learn to work with your tools.
  19. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    I don't own an iPhone and only played with one for maybe five minutes in a shop a year ago. My current phone is 3 years old, does everything I need a phone for but will be finally replaced with an iPhone sometime this year. So no I haven't a clue what the iPhone or iPad can and can't do with attachments but I do know exactly what every single full OS on Earth can do no matter if it's running on a netbook, a tablet or a desktop.

    I wish I worked in your super happy IT world throughout my career where nothing goes wrong, where no one ever forgets files, drops Blackberrys into toilets, emails secure data to external companies by accident, where every IT possibility has been fully thought through and then solutions funded properly, where all the workers are fully trained and where none of the workers are idiots.

    Every company I have worked in treat the IT Dept like a Fire Dept...no interest until there is a fire. Once the fire is out and you explain how this can prevented in the future....sorry no budget for that solution.

    The question was posed, "iPad - Key to the paperless office", my main point is that a piece of consumer technology like the iPad needs to meet you half way for it to fit into the workplace effectively but it doesn't. You have to constantly second guess it...oh does it support this, does it have connector x, will it allow me do y and so on. Only the iPad is trying to sell itself as an office device without the necessary features to back that up. Take the worlds crappiest netbook...it has almost every thing you need so it will integrate into the workplace with no effort. It might be low specced or have a terrible screen but you can have four or five apps running, you can work in those apps at the same time, information can be easily moved between those apps running at the same time, connect to ethernet when a large file needs transferring, plug in any number of third party devices, etc.

    The iPad will be brilliant at home/college where it's limitations only cost time and some effort. In the workplace it's limitations will cost money. What IT Dept will spend scarce resources on an iPad when they could just buy two full featured laptops that will fit into any currently conceivable work scenario?
  20. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    One of the HIG for the iPad is that the filesystem should basically be completely transparent, or disappear, from the users POV. In other words, there seem to be strong signals that apps *will* be able to create, save, and move files. It's not 100% clear yet whether/how apps will *share* files.

    Worst case you could send yourself an email with all the pertinent attachments, including PDFs, which could be pulled up and read as needed.

    As far as the paperless office, I wrote a post on this on my blog [note to mods: I am not pimping my blog! This is entirely in context!!!] as it relates to the film industry's use - and possible replacement of - paper scripts.

    ANother very neat scenario was pondered by a guy named Dr. Tim Brimmer, who wrote about the iPad in music education. REALLY neat stuff to think about. Totally gets your mind working as to how the iPad can transform the ways we work and play. His blog (not mine!) is ipadpossibilities.com


    PS - to hideous ape above - I believe your vision of the world is limited by an inability (refusal?) to see how 9x% of the challenges you cite could be fairly easily overcome through software, and I'm not just talking about multi-tasking in the OS. I've had this debate time and again and don't care to rehash the points again. Just . . . think a little longer and harder about it.
  21. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Piece of cake to move from your desktop to the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad.

    There are a variety of apps out there.

    I personally use FileMagnet.
  22. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    I think you are assuming my posts relate to my views outside of the workplace...they don't. This thread is about the workplace so my posts are reflecting that. I'm a musician myself and would buy an iPad as soon as a multi-touch midi controller app gets released. My vision of the world is totally free and open but in the workplace your damn right it's limited, it has to be.

    I simply posted some situations that show up some issues you could run into if you were to use an iPad as it is right now and based on the info we have right now in a typical office environment. I never said you couldn't use it, I never said it won't be brilliant at certain things like music production or video. I've noticed people who keep defending the iPad to the hilt always refer to others as not been open-minded or, what might be, what might be developed, what might be released, what might be added...in the workplace you have to deal with the here and now.

    As for thinking longer and harder...eh I have actually and I am a big Apple fan...but in my day job instead of waiting for someone, somewhere to develop particular business critical apps, Apple to approve them, then train the entire workforce in using those closed world apps I'd rather have a piece of fully functional hardware with a full open OS from day one that my company will then decide how it will be best integrated to the workplace...not Apple.

    iPad is a brilliant home/home office consumer device, basically an iPod Computer...iBooks, Music, Games, Video, cutdown web browsing, download a few useful apps from the App Store...job done. That's all this version is really meant to be until Apple release it with full OSX running on it. Yes it will have some niche area's in business but no company in its right mind would buy hundreds of iPads and get tied into using iTunes and the App Store as their sole point of distribution and development. Something like this, if done right and even costing much more than an iPad, will be far more useful to the majority of companies:

  23. spammerhamster macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2010
    You're right. The iPad won't be able to help the office with those problems. But then again, going paperless or otherwise revolutionize technology would be the last thing on their mind in that scenario...

    In fact, I don't think even the Macbook which saved independence day could save such an office...
  24. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Points taken Hideous, there's no doubt that legacy/switching costs in the enterprise are incredibly high. That's why MS' dominance, once established, has proven so very difficult to dislodge.

    However, we're already on a very slippery slope. This is not the world of 10 - or even 5 - years ago. Apple's done something quite sneaky - they've cracked the door to the enterprise open via the iPhone, the most requested, most satisfying device as measured in a recent IT survey (searching for link).

    Once they built exchange into the iPhone so nicely, Apple removed the biggest reason an IT manager had to say 'no.' I forget the exact number but the number of Fortune 1000 companies who officially support the iPhone is in the triple digits.


    1) Apple's already in the enterprise in a way they never had been previously. Don't underestimate the importance of this. Corporate IT is supporting Apple, and under increasing - not decreasing - pressure to do so, from the companies' own employees.

    2) The same Exchange functionality is presumably built into the iPad, a relatively inexpensive piece of hardware when compared to the nicer ThinkPads and the like.

    3) It doesn't take a massive stretch to imagine MS releasing Office native for the iPad. And they may not need to if Apple's done a good job with Office file compatibility in iWorks.

    I'm not predicting a wholesale switch (yet) by any stretch of the imagination, but I *do* believe that small businesses will happily embrace the iPad. And I *do* believe that most of what most needs doing can get done on an iPad, both out of the box as we understand it right now, and undoubtedly in a year after a deluge of real applications are released.
  25. hideous.ape macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    Can't argue with that...cause the more Apple and MS trade blows at Enterprise level the better the overall market will be for all consumers. MS have had it easy for far too long in the home and workplace. It's about time MS actually had to earn there market share. Sure if Apple had released Vista they would probably be out of business by now. MS Office on the iPad is one of those things that would push the iPad up the Enterprise ladder in a big way. That really would be the killer app/suite to get companies interested in a large scale.

    I can see the iPad working out in the same way the original iPod and original iPhone did. Apple learned a lot from the first generation and then steadily improved those products until the balance was tipped. At that stage the infrastructure around those products was excellent and no amount of online commentary or people like me picking out faults can get in the way of people wanting the device. I've no doubt the iPad will be perfect for some people straight away but for me it will need at least 6 to 8 months in the field and app development before I can really judge it. As you said, the apps are the key to its success or failure long term.

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