MPs Can Use Tablets For More Than Just Candy Crush

BLOG: Despite growing acceptance in the workplace, many have a hard time accepting tablets are good for business

The reaction to news that all 650 MPs elected in this year’s General Election will receive iPads is indicative of the perception that tablets are more pleasure than business despite increasing adoption in the workplace.

Many focused on the relatively high cost of Apple devices compared to its rivals, with many suggesting the iPad is a desirable luxury item rather than a productivity machine.

Indeed, the example of Conservative MP Nigel Mills using his iPad to play Candy Crush Saga for more than two hours during a Commons Work and Pensions Committee meeting. Naturally this, along with the estimated £1 million cost of the rollout over the course of the next parliament, meant there were cheap political points to be scored.

Candy Crush machines

David Cameron with iPad featured“As we saw with Nigel Mills and Candy Crush, MPs will be using the games, and the iTunes and other features on the iPad,” shadow cabinet minister Chi Onwurah told the Daily Express, arguing it was wrong that MPs would be using a device that many of her constituents could not afford.

Her call for a platform-agnostic tablet strategy carried more weight, but the focus on the entertainment aspects of the iPad played up these common perceptions.

Liberal Democrat MP Jonathan Thurso says the use of iPads since 2012 has saved £3 million by removing the need to print paper documents and that a move away from the iOS ecosystem would incur more costs as processes and training programmes would have to be changed.

Public backlash

But this was not enough to stop three quarters of respondents of a Daily Mirror poll saying that MPs should not receive the iPads, while comments on other news sites and Twitter frequently suggested that MPS were out of touch and should pay for their “status symbol” tablets themselves.

Some even suggested that a cheaper alternative like a Tesco Hudl should be used. Given that particular device was intended as a vehicle to shift Tesco’s online service, it’s apparent some think video, music and browsing is all a tablet can do.

However MPs have been given allowances for laptops and mobile phones, which can also be used for gaming and video, for some time. Where was the hysteria then?

There certainly wasn’t one when the Metropolitan Police, which is using iPad Minis but is open to other platforms, revealed tablets were saving officers one hour every shift.

Business appropriate

iPad Mini 3 (3)Naturally, anything involving taxpayers’ money and members of parliament will attract much more attention than other organisations, but many still believe tablets are entertainment machines.

This is a view tablet manufacturers have been working to eradicate, particularly as sales of high-end devices slow down amid fears of consumer saturation and increased competition from smaller, cheaper devices.

Apple and IBM are working to provide customers with industry-specific applications and iPads, while Samsung and Microsoft have teamed up to pre-install apps such as Office 365 and OneDrive on the Korean manufacturer’s tablet.

Long way to go?

Microsoft has pushed Windows 8, and will do with Windows 10, as the operating system that can unify the tablet and PC ecosystems and has billed the Surface Pro 3 as “the tablet that can replace your laptop.” Others are offering enterprise-specific tablets and rugged devices for industry.

It’s clear that the technology industry believes tablets can make an impact on the enterprise and evidence suggests they are being used in the workplace – even if is through the backdoor or through a BYOD policy rather than a coherent strategy.

Although many commenters and Twitter users were of the opinion that iPads were good for work and that it was normal for employers to provide technology to workers, the general reaction to taxpayer-funded iPads for MPs suggests many people have a hard time accepting tablets are truly business essential.

You just have to hope your CFO isn’t one of them.

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