Thursday, October 13, 2011

iPad apps may be a way to preserve the sanity of people managers

My colleagues and I have been studying a peculiar species in the corporate world, called people managers, for several months now. They seem to be the most stressed out bunch of people with little time to do their work. They are the ones bombarded with every corporate message, every new tool, every new strategy, every violation of spending policy, violation of time entry and so on. It is not a surprise that people managers are not fans of enterprise software. They also seem to be the most mobile people in the office. They are going from meeting room to meeting room, building to building, office to office and cubicle to cubicle. They attend many urgent but unimportant meetings to please their boss, be a good corporate citizen, return a favor to a colleague so that he or she will come to the boring and unimportant meetings that they arrange etc. I sat and watched many managers in meetings. Most of the time, they check their mobile devices under the table, paying little attention to the subject matter being discussed. I completely understand why they are bored. Most of those meetings had a series of slides with the self absorbed presenter going on and on with no intention to connect with his or her audience.

I also read reports by Nielson and others that the iPad increases consumption of content because of its form factor. It can be carried around like a notebook, and has a large screen that can be used to do a lot of content consumption and analysis. It can be hidden under the table in a meeting room and peered into. People managers can pretend that they are taking notes in the meeting while tapping away on their iPad. Tapping on the iPad won't make that annoying keyboard noise that invites hostile stares from others in the meeting room.

So I am wondering if more manager apps should be built for the iPad first. Forget the web version. Most managers don't go to their enterprise software portal, unless they are forced to, any way. It goes without saying that the apps have to be relevant for the managers and should be designed well.

The good news is that I get to try out these things.  My colleagues and I may test this approach in the coming months to see how it works. Stay tuned.

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