Productivity for Dummies: A CFO Fantasy Story

BLOG: Can iPad, liberal BYOD policies, add 30 minutes to each employee’s work day?

TOPICS: technology

Times are lean. Business in the developed nations is struggling. We’re facing a bleak short-term future for most every enterprise. Getting more for less has to be high on any CFO’s agenda. So it’s probably a good time to take a little look at boosting productivity.

What comes to mind is fresh research published this weekend, which shows students using a tablet (an Apple tablet in this case, but the environment will inevitably change moving forward) get significantly better results than those using more-conventional teaching methods.

In a pilot study run by Apple and textbook publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it was found that Algebra 1 students using a tablet were more likely to score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on subject tests than those using old-fashioned textbooks. Just 59% of students learning from paper course books got those results, while 78% of those using an e-textbook hit those hallowed highs.

It isn’t just the lessons or the technology, but the experience of using both: Students were more engaged when using an iPad. As any parent knows, you can do everything you can to hammer knowledge inside your progeny’s head. But it counts for nothing if he or she isn’t listening.

How is this relevant to you as a CFO? Very.

That’s because if you think about it, this provides further proof that interactive multi-use devices interest people. When applied to the workplace, you’ll find that interest expressed in a heap of statistics, which imply productivity gains.

  • Think about that iPass survey of 1,100 mobile workers worldwide, which showed that workers who use mobile devices for both work and play put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not. That means workers could be considered around 10% more productive.
  • In a Cisco white paper, that company declared that its company-wide BYOD policy had delivered significant productivity gains, the equivalent of 30 minutes per worker per day.
  • With more applications and more iPhone use, we’ve seen clear, noticeable improvements in patient care,” said Dr. Scott Levy, vice president and chief medical officer of Doylestown Hospital in Pennsylvania, in a report published on Apple’s website.

Ernst & Young’s mobile data security expert, Matthias Bandemer, will appear at a conference next month to explain the security challenges of enterprise iPad use, but says those that do embrace the iPad and other mobile devices report “significant productivity gains”.

IDG’s recently-published "iPad for Business Survey" (PDF and interesting reading) suggests iPads are (at present) better suited to consumption, rather than generation, of content. From the survey, 54% of execs “always” use iPads for work communication and 42% “always” use them for personal communication. Over 10% say that their iPad has “completely replaced” a laptop. Over half say it has “partly replaced” their laptop.