Five Ways to use Apple's iPad to Collaborate Online

Bookmark and Share Friday, July 2, 2010

Use the iPad to Collaborate OnlineApple's iPad could give a significant boost to Web-based communication and collaboration software for teams through it's simple usability, new form factor, and it's always-on availability. But, as with everything that's brand new, we need early adopters to show us the way. Until then, here's a few ways you can think about using the iPad to collaborate online with teams or on projects.

Be a scribe at a meeting and upload the meeting notes with a picture of the whiteboard to your company wiki. Sure, you can take notes with a laptop or a netbook. But, with your iPad and a $1 app called Camera for iPad, you can connect your iPhone with camera to your iPad. Viola! Now you're crying foul - "Yeah, but it requires an iPhone, too!" But, let's face it - what Apple fanboy has an iPad but not an iPhone? No matter how you do it, keeping an accurate account of what transpired at meetings by storing notes and pictures (aka "physical evidence") of major decisions is key. We're all busy and running from meeting to meeting. We forget things.

Have a WebEx Conference CallCisco's WebEx product is available for use on the iPad. Sales reps live and die by the conference call. Now, no matter where you are, on a train, in a cab, in the airport, or in the hotel lobby - you can still make that call that's been rescheduled for the fourth time to accomodate the Junior Vice President to the Assistant Accountant who really really needs to understand your product's low latency with respect to the robust taxonomy before signing off on the PO.

Discuss your presentation slides, don't present them. There's volumes of books and blog posts on being a better presenter. Yet, even in the smallest companies or the most informally designed meetings, we all fall into the trap of sitting in a room staring at a bunch of slides projected onto a screen and someone standing in front of that screen - presenting. Now, launch your Keynote slides on your iPad and your small team can informally gather around your ample screen to see and participate in what you've got to show them.

Skype in your coworker at that impromptu meeting in the kitchen. Ok, this one isn't quite ready yet at the time of writing this post. But, we've all been here before. You're getting yet another can of delicious Polar Cranberry Lime Seltzer water from the kitchen and you stumble into a discussion between the VP of Customer Development and the CEO that, depending on which way it goes, will ultimately decide the crowning glory or abject failure of the company itself. Naturally you insert yourself into the conversation and learn that the entire go/no-go decision is predicated on a report that Bob from accounting supposedly created yesterday but nobody can be sure. You've got your trusty iPad and can video chat Bob from his 4th floor office and avoid certain disaster.

Sketch out your latest design as a group. With Ideate, an application for collaborative sketching by EffectiveUI, you can use your iPad as a sketch pad and collaboratively work out the next iteration of your website design while on the go. When you're done, be sure to upload your latest version to your intranet wiki to share and get instant feedback from the folks in engineering.

But what about you? Those are five ideas that I came up with - and I don't even own an iPad. For those of you more fortunate than I, use the comments below to tell me how you're using Apple's iPad to collaborate online.

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