iPad’s Impact on B2B

There has been lots of discussion about the new device – from how it’s cool and new to when it was finally out and where you can buy an iPad cover for it. The point of this discussion is what impact it has on.

The iPad became the latest entry in Apple’s range of digital gadgets. After all the announcements made and first purchases done, the main question for business is how will the on-the-go device impact marketers?

Although it might be too early to make conclusions, B2B marketers still feel the need to start identifying what number of people is using iPad, so that they could foresee the changes to their marketing and business models. So far, the real working iPad apps for B2B marketers are unknown, but even without them the new gadget is supposed to positively impact marketers in three ways:

1. CRM data capture

B2B sales people at international tradeshows are more often seen toting around their Apple devices. The reason is that iPad allows sales teams to capture prospect contact data to be added into their CRM systems. Participants of the market explain that the iPad can also extend the usability of existing CRM applications that have already been used on earlier Apple devices like iPhone thanks to a larger display and easier data capture. While the tradeshows are one of the perfect use cases, iPad also enables much richer e-mail marketing. Although it would take some time for work, the iPad owner expecting a much richer experience on a device will get far more than fairly static content delivery in e-mail.

Some of the market players are waiting impatiently for being able to enhance their tradeshow experiences by giving everyone an iPad zipped in an iPad case with a company logo and placing them in the booth ready for lead capture. The game changer is that the company representatives will be taking surveys with all the information loaded immediately to their CRM platform. iPads are already being ordered for the corporations.

In addition, integration of both online and offline experiences that the device offers are also highly valuable for B2B marketers, especially at such offline events as seminars. First of all, a salesperson that is carrying an Apple device will be able to easily move to a live demonstration, if there’s any possibility that the conversation goes that way. Besides, a prospect having an iPad can be instantly guided to resources in the Internet during the ongoing conversation if necessary. If the experience is integrated, that would be much more effective than either alone.

2. Customer experiences & rich content

Since the iPad has been developed, Apple continues expanding their customers’ user experience. Together with the new bells, users are expecting both publishers and companies to up the ante for richer content, as the release of this unique device was supposed to increase the demand for more multimedia content. This means that B2B marketers have to bring their attention to the quality of their content in the Internet, along with how targeted public is going to interact with the content. Since now, product data, official documents, and presentations must all be designed considering specific digital devices like iPad, as the content would likely to be consumed on them.

3. Real-time portfolio

The Apple’s device has already proved to serve as a very useful tool in terms of a real-time portfolio of product demos or any other marketing materials. Thanks to the tablet’s size and its impressive screen features, B2B marketers will be able to nicely show off their works or products wrapped in a neat iPad cover, as well as walk prospects through presentations. The gadget may also be useful for sales teams, allowing to demonstrate financials in real-time.

The representatives of the business agree with this and also note that it would be just amazing to have all the marketing stuff like presentations and collateral ready on-the-go at any given moment. It would also feel nice as opposed to many times they had to just sit around while waiting for the laptop of the marketer to boot up. Hopefully, it won’t be so much frustrating.

The others remember flip charts as a convenient way to connect one-on-one with a prospect, waiting for the iPad to be an incredible tool to rapidly present a high-level value proposition.

Besides, the businesses expect the positive impact from the iPad’s 3G networking capabilities. The marketers will be able to present their company’s marketing material from any place where a cell phone would work. Although this could be done on MacBooks or on other laptops, it changes considering the interface driving software development. New apps and other innovations are on their way to support the iPad, and it would be the main point for marketing companies to get the most out of the device – only if B2B will be keep it in mind of the developers.

However, there are some exceptions among the marketers, who are not totally convinced that the iPad will change B2B community considerably. Some of the global corporations, including Caterpillar, believe that the new digital tool needs to be put in perspective. They argue that everyone just needs to calm down with this gadget, pointing at the absence of any incredible applications for B2B marketing so far. They argue that new device is way too bulky for using CRM, and a marketer can use a PDA or Smartphone for the same purposes to present works during a conversation and it’ll be efficient enough. As for the tradeshows, iPad’s display is, on the contrary, too small for the good show. All the other functions that iPad claims to be able to perform, may be done by any Netbook as well. In other words, the companies don’t see the point of spending huge money on the device just because it’s new. Seems like their position will change when the device prove to be a real revenue-generating tool for the investment.

At the same time the opponents of iPad suggest that the latest Apple’s development is nothing more than another tool to deliver content, while the content itself is device-neutral, though it has a persuasive call to action. In fact, it doesn’t matter how the content is delivered – through newspaper, television, mobile phone or Apple device. The only relevant thing is the message of the content, but not the medium.

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