This week Apple celebrates 10 years since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world. My feed has been full of different articles arguing the success or failure of this device which has prompted me to throw my hat in the ring and share my personal opinion.
The iPad has utterly changed my life and that’s no exaggeration. When the first iPad was released, its potential was something I was keen to explore. This portable, small(ish) all in one device with a sim card was perfectly suited for use in the field and very user-friendly. I was working as a plumber at that stage and thought perhaps this device could be the tool we had been searching for to help us run a more efficient trade business. After much trial and testing (and pulling of hair!) to confirm my concept worked, the iPad inspired me to create a new business venture, TradiePad, steering my career off on a tangent from plumbing to tech.
There seem to be many naysayers about the success of iPad, people criticising that it hasn't lived up to the expectation in the way the Mac became indispensable to designers in the 90s, but I beg to differ. The iPad may not have been revolutionary to those with office style jobs, who had already had decades of the luxury of having a laptop or desktop to use every day with an unlimited power source.
But for those in the field like tradies or mobile businesses, the iPad was a device which complimented the way we operated and allowed huge advancements in streamlining our processes. This was the thing we’d been waiting for! Finally, technology had caught up to the way that we needed to work!
When coupled with the right apps (and a sturdy, waterproof case!), it has undeniably become a total game-changer for the trades and construction industry. It was a total Goldilocks moment: Laptops and computers were too big, phones were too small, but the iPad? Well that, as the story goes, was just right!
STEVE JOBS SAID THE IPAD WOULD DEFINE "AN ENTIRELY NEW CATEGORY OF DEVICES THAT WILL CONNECT PEOPLE WITH THEIR APPS AND CONTENT IN A MUCH MORE INTIMATE, INTUITIVE AND FUN WAY THAN EVER BEFORE."
At the time of launch, the iPad was a great device but there were very limited apps available. For me, this was a bit of a blessing as it allowed time to learn and test each new app on debut, exploring all the functions and features they could provide to discover which apps were the best fit for what we needed. We started really simply with Invoice2Go and the Apple Calendar app, and this was revolutionary, but then the flood gates opened. I remember the big players in job management that had apps around that time were GeoOp, ServiceM8, Smart Jobs (Tradify), WorkflowMax and simPRO, and of course, Xero was a huge influence in this space as developers scrambled to jump into the Xero eco-system.
“THE LAST TIME THERE WAS THIS MUCH EXCITEMENT OVER A TABLET, IT HAD SOME COMMANDMENTS WRITTEN ON IT,” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Today there are literally thousands of apps available for iPad that suit the trade industry, everything from job and project management through to forms, safety, finances and payments. Ascora, iAuditor, BuilderTrend, Deputy, Fergus, Next Minute, Formitize, Square, Quickbooks Online, Jobber, PlanGrid, CoreCon.... The list is MASSIVE!
Over the years the iPad itself has evolved now boasting greater memory, the inclusion of a camera and a thinner, lighter profile, faster processors plus variations in size and price to suit multiple needs and functions.
The iPad kicked off the age of the paperless tradie, heralding the era of real-time data which completely changed the way tradies work and communicate with clients and collaborate with each other. It has enabled the ability to gain improved visibility over staff, finances and the business as a whole which in turn has improved customer relations with increased reliability and communication. In an industry which was crippled by paperwork, the iPad has allowed work to be completed digitally in the field, during work hours, saving many trade business owners hours in unpaid admin time after hours.
Each day I see more and more trade businesses adopting technology, the majority use the iPad as their main device onsite but the beauty of this piece is really interconnectivity between devices and apps. The free flow of information from iPads and iPhones in the field to the desktop computer in the office is allowing the trade industry to become more professional, more business forward and definitely more progressive. This is a major shift in the way tradies have traditionally worked and a huge influence in getting rid of the stigma associated with "inefficient tradies", and I believe the iPad was a key player in this change.
There is no denying the trades and construction industry has evolved and will continue to evolve, we are now seeing the shift from the early adopters of technology to the growing majority. Tradies are increasingly embracing technology, apps and devices in their businesses. I believe the iPad has been to tradies what the Mac was to designers in the 90s, an amazing revolutionary force to be reckoned with.
Paperwork? Stuff that! Thank you, Steve.
This article was written by TradiePad Managing Director Clinton Cowin - originally published on LinkedIn