A New Concept for iPad Business Owners

Tucked away on the second floor of the Uptown Minneapolis Apple store is a hidden gem geared specifically to iPad business owners. It’s called the Briefing Room. The room is Apple’s answer to helping businesses learn, develop, and implement Apple products in their
organizations.

Welcome To The Briefing Room

The Briefing Room concept debuted with the Uptown store’s opening in June 2010; not long after the iPad made its appearance and swept business owners off their feet.

The Apple store employees are more than happy to give a private tour to anyone who asks; they are as excited about it as I was the first time I saw it.

It’s All iPad Business Here

I’d love to share some photos with you, but unfortunately private photos of the room are not allowed. Apple applied for a patent for the Briefing Room in September, so there is a definite sensitivity to what they openly share. Still, traditional media outlets have had access to the room, so you’ll find some pictures here from St. Paul Pioneer-Press consumer tech reporter Ojeda-Zapata.

The Minneapolis store provided the prototype for the Briefing Room concept, which serves three basic functions: briefing, training, and networking. The room seats up to 16 people around a large conference table. One wall is made up of floor to ceiling windows that overlook a green roof (not much to look at in Minnesota this time of year), and with it being away from the main store floor, the space is quiet and tranquil.

There are five large TV displays on the other walls, and demo machines for each of Apple’s products. The room offers full video audio conferencing capabilities, and all the room’s functions are accessed and controlled by an app on a single iPad.

Not Sure What To Use? Try a Briefing Session

The Apple Briefing Room can be booked for one person up to an entire team. You can meet with a member of the Business Team (a dedicated group of Apple store employees focused on the business segment) and participate in work sessions designed to determine which Apple products will work the best in your business.

My tour guide shared that after a recent briefing session, a major hospitality client decided to use iPads in their lobbies to assist with guest check-in and to allow guests to access the internet to monitor and check-in for their flights. The client was also considering the adding iPad’s in their guest rooms to detail and track in-room inventory information.

How Do I Do That? Hands On Training

It’s a common problem. You buy a technology product for your business, and then aren’t quite sure how to use it for what you wanted to do. Or in my case, I have an iPad, but I know I’m not leveraging it to its full potential. The Briefing Room is here to help.

Again scheduling with the Business Team, you can use the Briefing Room as a training ground. Everyone has the opportunity for hands on experience and has the ability to ask questions right away. I heard about another client that brought in their sales team and trained them on how to use their iPads in the field to enter sales data and track/maintain inventory.

I asked my guide how often they run into an issue where a client wants to perform some business function on the iPad that isn’t supported by an available app. He smiled and assured me that with over 300,000 available iPad apps (and counting) that scenario hasn’t happened yet. In fact, he said that the only time a customized app build would be necessary would be if there was something very tailored needed. Otherwise, in his experience, there was an app for everything a business needs.

Who Else Does That? A Chance To Network

Sometimes as a small business owner, it’s nice to hear what other people are doing with their technology that you may be able to leverage in your own business. Apple has thought of that too. Special networking events (even concerts) are regularly being scheduled in the Briefing Room to allow business owners to connect and discuss practical product applications.

The Uptown store holds the original Briefing Room. But since its opening, Briefing Rooms have reportedly sprung up in Chicago, Shanghai, London and Paris.

So if you are a small business owner staring at your iPad thinking, “How do I use this better?” I’d encourage you to check out your local Apple store. Even stores without Briefing Rooms are offering business focused seminars that can be useful.

In the meantime, I’m looking for my next chance to book a session at the Minneapolis Briefing Room.

This article is a guest post from Christy Smith.  Christy is the founder of ThinkBlot Communications and has published articles in iPhone Life magazine. As a writer and blogger, she is always looking for ways to leverage her iPad to run her business more effectively.  She can be found on Twitter @thinkblotcom.

Comments

  1. Mark Walker says:

    Great article. I am attending my first business sessions at the Indianapolis store this week.

    In my company’s experience talking with companies about their sales forces using iPads, they have to currently have to cobble together various apps to integrate into their sales process. It’s not simple right now.

    There is an intuitive feeling that the iPad is the right form factor for field sales mobile tool but the apps are not there yet for sales. Despite what the Apple Rep said, business apps make up a small percentage of the total apps available.

    For example, many companies provide their presentations to their sales force on PDFs. You can’t display those on a projector from the iPad so you have to port over to Keynote.

    Apple is smart to address this market segment in a more aggressive way than they have in the past. Not there yet, but signs point to them recognizing this and making it easier for companies to adopt the iPad.

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for commenting! Cobbling together a few different apps has been my experience as well in utilizing the iPad for my speaking engagements. When you think about it, this concept is also a really clever way for Apple to get a ton of feedback from the business market and have the opportunity to see a close-up view of how clients are trying to use the iPad. My guess is we’ll see some swift advancements once they’ve synthesized all of that info.

      1. Mark Walker says:

        Christy, I hope that’s one of the purposes of Apple’s outreach to the business community. If they can provide the enterprise support and make it easier to distribute intra-company apps, the demand is there.

        At least, that’s what we are finding when we talk about our app and service.

        mark@fatstax.com

        1. Shane says:

          I do as well Mark – part of their success with this will be how they actually follow through with the customer experience they are providing. To me, this will be one of the defining factors of their success in the enterprise and I agree, there needs to exist and easier way to distribute intra-corporate apps!! I do have a PDF, if you are interested that shows how to distribute intra-company apps!

    2. Shane says:

      Mark. Thanks for that insight!!! Much appreciated. I agree with you that the business apps make up a smaller segment, but given the potential, the right knowledge and the form factor then the iPad is a great business tool. Especially on the road for sales staff!

  2. [...] technology executives. And Apple has quietly opened conference rooms in some of its Apple Stores to meet with corporate customers. If Apple is sneaking into the enterprise, the enterprise is quietly leaving the doors open to let [...]

  3. Yes! Finally something about sales training audio programs.

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