There is no doubt that Apple's latest launch, the iPad, has driven consumers across the globe into a frenzy with people everywhere vying to get their hands on its latest device. But as technology becomes more consumerised, the business community is asking if the iPad will ever have a role in the workplace. Will it ever be considered a 'proper' technology alongside customer relationship management, security and payment systems?

One clear opportunity is in the information industry. As margins are squeezed, advertising continues to head online and traditional outlets struggle to compete with free news sites, the iPad offers an opportunity for publishers to innovative and gain a competitive edge. UK publishing giant, Associated Northcliff Digital (AND), part of the Daily Mail & General Trust company, which publishes tabloids The Daily Mail, Metro and, is the perfect example of this.

AND will be the first UK publisher to launch an iPad application starting with its free daily London paper, Metro. The application will enable readers to flip through articles by flicking their finger, scroll through a timeline of stories, and rotate and zoom in on images. The strategy appeals to advertisers by focusing on attracting readers with high quality imagery. But aside from just a pretty piece of eye candy, the app will allow users to share a link to stories through their social networks. From a business perspective the app will mean users staying loyal to the brand as well as attracting advertising.

The iPad signals the start of a new wave of tablets.

But the iPad app is just one small part of AND's wider web content management strategy. The company has implemented an enterprise content repository across all of its publications to make it easier to manage and share media including text and images. The system ensures visitors to its sites are presented with relevant content based on past behaviours, helping to keep them engaged and online for longer. This new system also gives advertisers greater insight into how different audiences interact with their adverts, helping AND to generate revenue from its content. Since its initial roll-out earlier this year, the new system has had an immediate impact on AND's bottom line by significantly increasing the number of unique monthly site visits and the average number of site visitor page views.

iPad to bolster mobile retail strategies

For retailers the iPad offers another way to reach out to customers as part of an integrated multi-channel strategy. iPhone applications have already proven to be successful for retailers and with a larger screen and better connectivity, the iPad is likely to be a popular channel. The trend is likely to be driven by decreasing customer interest in catalogues coupled with the rapid increase in ecommerce. Retailers who can effectively target customers with relevant content using multiple channels including the web, email and mobile are sure to stand out from the competition.

I see the iPad as offering something unique for businesses when it comes to events and conferences. We will provide attendees at our annual customer conference, Ignite 2010 Global Customer Summit, in Chicago and Berlin with complementary iPads. But the move is not just a gimmick. The devices will be used to minimise printed collateral and to deliver dynamic, personalised and up-to-date event information directly to attendees quickly and easily. The cost savings is immense when you think about cutting out brochures, printed agendas, newsletters and other costly printed information and materials. We hope the move will catch on and more businesses will consider iPads as an integral part of business events, seminars and conferences.

For industries where content is king, such as a media and publishing, the iPad offers a breath of new life. The device has a role to play at business workshops, seminars and events where attendees benefit from access to a slick device for casual web browsing, watching videos and sharing media between colleagues. While the iPad will not replace the traditional laptop, it is an attractive offering for businesses looking to innovate in a competitive market.

About the author:

Kevin Cochrane, is chief marketing officer at web content management company Day Software