Back in April, we started our iPad campaign to answer one simple question: "What can a business do with Box and the iPad?" We decided to conduct a real-world test by giving away 20 iPads to D7 Consulting, a construction firm from Newport Beach, CA.
Although the campaign is officially over, we're still learning a lot from how D7 is using Box and the iPad to transform their business and empower their field teams in new ways. We know there's a ton of interest in businesses wanting to mobilize their content and their workforce. While everyone's situation is unique in their own way, we think there are some great lessons you can take away from D7's experience and want to share some thoughts:
1. Establish best practices with a test group for a smoother rollout
D7 didn't roll out the iPad to everyone at the same time. They tested it with a few of their field managers (QAO - Quality Assurance Observers) to see what they could do with Box on the iPad. Once they established how their field managers could use it, they gradually rolled out iPads to the rest of the team with a well-defined orientation process, ironing out kinks and establishing best practices along the way.
2. Commit, commit, commit
For most companies, deploying iPads to a department or even the entire company is a new experience. While there's a lot of excitement and good ideas about what can be done, you have to expect that there'll be some bumps along the way. Commit to making the most of the experience by making the good ideas work and take challenges as an opportunity to learn something new; using a device like the iPad with a cloud-based solution can really can change how you work, how you serve clients and how productive you can be in the long term. Go all in - or as D7's CEO put it, "Get on board or get out."
3. Research useful apps in advance
D7 was so excited about the campaign that a few people researched useful apps before they received the iPads. They looked at Quickoffice and DocsToGo for creating and editing documents, along with apps like Noterize and iAnnotate for filling out worksheets and marking up building plans. Even though there were a ton of different apps they could use, they decided to use a specific set of apps to troubleshoot problems across their entire team more easily and consistently.
4. Go with the (work) flow
D7 put in a lot of thought into how to organize the flow of information from their field managers to their administrative team in the office. For example, they set up folders for each client and invited the appropriate field manager to each folder. To avoid confusion, they established file naming conventions for employees sending reports and photos from the field. People back in the office monitored folder updates, which meant that they always knew when field managers uploaded new content. Establishing processes in advance was a key part in making the transition that much smoother.
5. Don't forget to leverage everything Box has to offer
Even though Box on the iPad is really cool, you shouldn't forget about all the other things that Box does! D7 got more out of the experience using all of the tools that Box offers, like installing Box Sync so people could sync desktop files and training everyone on using the main Box service on the web. Though they haven't implemented it yet, they also looked at possible integrations like using Box with Google Apps. To make the iPad effective for their business, they covered it all - mobile, the web, the desktop and eventually, other SaaS services.
As long as you're willing to be flexible, the iPad is indeed ready for business. While you shouldn't expect it to replace some of the more substantive applications that your business depends on, you should expect it make your mobile workforce a lot more powerful. Box and the iPad have become an invaluable part of the D7 team. We can't thank them enough for going all in on this experience and helping us learn so much along the way.
Post by Sean Lindo, Product Marketing Manager