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SFU Study Examines The IPad’s Business Potential

A recent SFU study looked at tablet computers and their use as not only a personal device, but also a business commodity. The study, entitled “Deciding when to use tablets for business applications”, focused on when and where tablet computers, such as the Apple iPad, can be used by organizations to improve or supplement the way they already do business. The study was published in MIS Quarterly Executive and was conducted by SFU professor Leyland Pitt, SFU graduate student Karen Robson, and Bentley University professor Pierre Berthon.

The study was conceptual, drawing on theory and current media reporting. What makes the study significant is in the new approach it takes to tablet technology. Pitt told The Peak in an email: “It was the first study to look at the iPad as a business, rather than a personal device, and to identify frameworks and approaches that managers can use to implement iPad-type solutions within their organizations.”

According to the paper, tablet computers such as the iPad are the first truly personal computers. “We wasted the term ‘personal computer’ on PCs, which were actually not that personal at all. In most working environments or homes they were shared, not individual. The iPad changes all that,” said Pitt.

The study points out that the iPad has many characteristics that make it different from portable computers and smartphones: they’re unique to the user, they’re very portable, they can be turned on instantly, and they have an ideal screen size. These features set the iPad apart, and in conjunction with certain apps, have the potential to turn it into a valuable business tool.

These conclusions can already be seen making an impact, specifically on education. Locally, Vancouver Career College decided this fall to make the jump from traditional textbooks and note-taking with pen and paper to using the iPad in all classrooms, changing the way students learn at that institution. Pitt predicts students “will all eventually use iPads to take notes and read their work. I think the days of printed textbooks are rapidly coming to an end. Whole courses will be encapsulated on an iPad-type device.”

The study essentially provides a framework that businesses and organizations can use to incorporate tablet technology into their already existing structure. Derek Moscato, director of marketing and communications at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, told The Peak: “There is great significance for any business generally in this study. Pitt and his colleagues have demonstrated in their research that the iPad can positively impact everything from the operations to customer service to marketing. The implications are far-reaching.”

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