…no this post is not about the ‘swallow with water to augment human capabilities’ kind. But the answer is the same.
One of the biggest criticisms about tablet devices such as the iPad is that they are only good for consuming content, not for creating content. And it’s a fair argument. Particularly the high-end content creation activities such as video editing and software programming. However, they are not everyday activities for the majority of people in work. For most people, content creation involves Microsoft Office or something similar. Word processing, spreadsheets and creating presentations.
Even for the everyday content creation tasks, a tablet struggles to compete with a traditional computer, desktop or portable. My work kit comprises of a MacBook Air and iPad. If I could only take one on a work trip, it would be the MacBook Air. However on holiday, the iPad wins. A slim keyboard goes in the luggage just in case. But creating a detailed proposal is hard work on an iPad. However, I am increasingly using the two together. I find it easier to research and create visual layouts and concepts on the iPad but the MacBook Air wins when typing is required.
But that’s an argument about content creation, not productivity. Just how many of those documents being created everyday in the workplace help improve productivity? How many of the reports get read from start to finish and are used to make an informed decision versus justify decisions already made. Maybe it’s time to start asking how much unstructured content really needs to be created, versus updating forms and applications on the go.
Whilst digital technologies continue to transform how we create, share and consume content, communicate with others and make decisions before acting, activities in most workplaces continue along traditional lines. People walking around with printed files that are out of date before they even get to the meeting. Notes being filed and forgotten. Hierarchy trumping evidence.
For tablets to have a real impact in the workplace from a productivity standpoint requires a rethink about what activities really matter in the workplace.
Thanks to ThomasThomas for the Flickr image used in this post