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Do You Need an iPad?

Even though there are technological hurdles to clear before tablets can become fully integrated into advisors' professional lives, there is little doubt the devices are here to stay.

Allyson Lewis, 06/23/2011

In October 2001, the technology world began to shift, like huge tectonic plates under the ocean.  The changes seemed subtle at first; with the introduction of the first iPod and the creation of iTunes, a few early adopters began to understand the significance of what would soon become available.

The iPod was really a tiny external hard drive with the incredible capacity to change the way we listen to music. Then, in June 2007, the iPhone was launched, and this has so radically changed the way we communicate that even my 77-year-old mother has an iPhone 4, which she uses to send and receive e-mail, send text messages, and connect to FaceTime.

I was reserved and uncertain when the original iPad was launched. It seemed like a bigger version of the iPhone, and I just wasn't sure it would be a useful tool for my life or my work. I am a 50-year-old woman. Without regular trips to my hairstylist, my hair is mostly gray. I have worked in the financial-services industry since 1982, when we shared tiny green electronic boxes that would pull up one stock quote at a time. I bought my first PC in 1987 with 10 megabytes of memory, and in 1995 we started using e-mail.

Times are changing, and I am more aware than ever that as a person in business, I must choose to remain ahead of the curve when it involves technology. Of course, I am confident there are plenty of reasons you have told yourself why you don't really need an iPad. But here are 10 reasons why you may want to consider this investment:

1. There are currently more than 25 million iPad users. You don't want to be left behind. It has major cool factor!

2. The "App" store opened on iTunes in July 2008. There are over 500,000 iPad applications, and as of this summer, more than 10 billion applications have been downloaded. There is an app for almost anything

3. More than 200,000 books are available in the iBook online book store. You can also download books from many local libraries at no cost. (Electronic books are convenient and save space.)

4. You can read online versions of most of your favorite newspapers, magazines, and journals (some for free and some for a small subscription fee) while still being completely green with the environment.

5. Learn on the go. You can download content from iTunes U and watch it when you have time on a comfortably sized screen. iTunes University gives you access to over 800 colleges and universities. You can access lectures, course materials, and audio programs from the likes of Stanford, Yale, MIT, and UC Berkley.

6. When you are sitting in a waiting room at the doctor's office, you can use the time to be productive--working on spreadsheets, sending personal e-mail, or even creating great to-do lists.

7. Have some downtime? There are apps available that will allow you to watch TV shows and movies on the go.

8. Those of us who have an iPhone have grown dependent on the built-in GPS. With the iPad, the larger screen makes it even easier to find your way.

9. The iPad gives you the ability to surf the Internet anytime and anywhere (with a mobile data plan).

10. The size of the iPad makes it convenient to carry in your briefcase or even some purses.

Will the iPad and competing tablets truly become a more important part of your workday? Yes. I may be a 50-year-old woman, but teachers in some of the public schools in Jonesboro, Ark., are being issued iPads at the beginning of the new school year. Every junior high student in a private school in Louisiana is receiving a school-issued iPad on the first day of school. How far behind do you think corporate America will be?

Before the iPad or other tablets can become fully integrated into our daily work life, the financial-services industry still has several technological hurdles to conquer:

  • How will financial firms be able to protect client data?
  • How will they be able to properly supervise and archive communication in the new world of social media? Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are incredible tools for communication and solutions for compliance will come sooner rather than later.
  • How do you train an entire workforce on such powerful tools? The rate of improvement for what these tablets can do is literally changing every day.
  • What will happen as video chat becomes more widely available? Will it more deeply connect us to our clients or will it reduce the most important form of face-to-face communication?

If you have not yet begun to imagine how these machines are changing how we live our lives, just try to imagine what will happen over the next few years as these companies distribute tablets with displays that will fold up like pieces of notebook paper and fit into your coat pocket. Or imagine accessing all of your files via voice command. 

I am definitely no expert on technology, but there is no doubt where the future is taking us. On March 11, 2011, I stood in line to buy my iPad. I took it home and was stunned to find that there were really no instructions. Inside the box was one single card slightly larger than a playing card. On the front it had a picture of where the on/off switch was, and on the back it had four steps for getting started. The entire experience is intended to be intuitive. You just know what to do. Applications don't really need explanation. And if you need help, just ask your child.

You may be asking yourself, what spurred a columnist whose beat is time management and productivity to write about the iPad? Well, five days ago I had to take my laptop in to the shop for a little tune-up. I was hoping to have it back the next day so I could finish my monthly column. But it wasn't ready, so I have now officially finished my first article that was completely typed on my iPad. It won't be my last.

But where does that leave you? Yes, it will still take a little while for tablets to be seen as commonplace, but I also remember that my first mobile phone was bolted into my car, and I had 300 minutes per month and thought it was just for fun. Now if I leave my phone at home I feel lost.

The future is closer than you think.

From here it is up to you. 

Allyson Lewis is the author of, The Seven Minute Difference. She speaks on improving time management, increasing productivity and rediscovering purpose. Find out how you can own a copy of Allyson's new online video training program: www.The7MinuteLifeSystem.com, subscribe to her blog: www.AllysonLewis.com, and follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/allyson7minutes

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