BI firm takes iPads over laptops

MicroStrategy will deploy nearly 2,000 Apple iPads to execs and sales personnel after finding strong TCO numbers

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MicroStrategy developers are also working to create iPad versions of its popular BI tools that could be used by insurance claims agents, customer service reps and retail sales workers, he said.

The company has offered versions of the BI tools for BlackBerry devices for three years. Sales of those tools are growing modestly, but the upcoming BI software products for iPad and iPhone are drawing "gigantic interest," he said.

Internally, MicroStrategy executives are able to use the iPad or iPhone to quickly review routine requests for worker expenses, purchase orders and more by using a custom-built application called Corporate Request Center. The managers can easily reject, approve or send the requests back for more information.

The approval process is a little quicker via an iPad, but mainly it is more convenient for users since the iPad can go almost anywhere. "Before, that was done only on a desktop, but as a workflow tool, using the iPad and iPhone has meant a big boost in productivity because you can use it wherever you are, when you have a spare moment," LaRow said.

E-mail access is probably the biggest function of the iPad, he said.

LaRow hopes to take advantage of video chat and collaboration capabilities in a next generation of iPads. He also hopes Apple adds the ability to input commands by voice. improving on the capability now offered by some third party tool makers.

"Video chat and collaboration on documents would be a great enhancement. If you watch people using iPads at work, they often sit shoulder to shoulder pointing at something on the same screen. If you could extend that experience so it's no longer shoulder to shoulder that would be good," LaRow said.

While MicroStrategy didn't intentionally choose iPads to be devices that workers would use in their personal lives, LaRow said the company has found "when everybody brings the iPads home, the kids grab them" for access to games, videos and more.

In essence, workers "like to use it ... it's more engaging," he concluded.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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