What does the Apple iPad mean for Document Management?

With the news that the Apple’s iPad has accepted pre-orders for upwards of 120,000 units, there is a great deal of speculation of whether the device will make its way into the Corporate IT Landscape.  How will it work? Who will use it? What applications will lead to rapid adoption? These are the same questions that accompanied the release of the iPhone, and with more than 15% of the smart phone market, the iPhone has answered these questions by commanding the attention of every IT department whether they like it or not.

The game may change even more significantly with the release of the iPad, and the subsequent release of numerous other Slate or Tablet-Based Devices from the competition. Since the iPad is not tethered to a particular Wireless Service Provider, the anticipation is that the iPad can soon begin to replace many of the notebooks and netbooks floating around enterprises of all sizes. As this transition takes place though, how will users be able to quickly and easily find related documents or supporting information directly from the iPad?

Now, more than ever, the importance of creating an efficient, easy-to-use taxonomy for Documents and Content becomes even more important. Perhaps even more importantly, Records Managers and Information Technology Professionals must start to give more thought to the context in which a user is retrieving a specific document, and provide built in links to related documents. This context-based linking is crucial to long-term usability as we drift further away from a “Keyboard and Desktop” environment toward a device-driven user community.

Hyland Software, the makers of OnBase, have included this Cross-Referencing Technology for years, allowing a user to click on a key word or section of a document to retrieve other, related documents. This technology becomes all the more useful when a user has no input mechanism in front of them other than the image or document on their screen.

As of this writing, however, it doesn’t seem that any of the major ECM Vendors have made any major announcements regarding expanding their functionality to these devices.  So we’re still left with questions – Will ECM Vendors recognize the potential of being able to virtually “pass” a document from one iPad to another? Which solution providers will recognize the value in being able to distribute content in a meeting setting to multiple iPad’s? The iPad is supposed to be released on April 3rd, so It’s safe to assume that we won’t have to wait very long to find out.

How do you envision using the iPad in your company? Have you given any thought to the strategy of making your content iPad-friendly? Share your thoughts in the comments!