With the release of the iPad only few days away, many of us are revisiting our reasons (or rationalizations) for buying one.

In my opinion, Steve Jobs / Apple have really sold this device short (Maybe intentionally) – Sure, lots of talk about content consumption, a place for web browsing, Photos, Books. And yes, this is not a great content creation device – BUT let’s remember that iWork is available on the device and it is a nearly a perfect “Bring to Coffee, Bring to Lunch” device.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always felt like a geek bringing my laptop to a coffee shop meeting or to lunch. It comes off as rude, or being distracted, or reading email. Yet no one minds a pad of paper for notes – why? because both parties can see what is written and it relates directly to the conversation.

I’ve tried this with a Windows based Tablet & stylus, but the interface is not clean enough and there is far too much going on (It’s Windows after all) . The whole experience feels like you are ignoring your Date at the prom.

Now enter the iPad – a few things in its favor:

1) It’s small and “pad of paper’- like

2) It’s large enough to be visible – everyone can follow the simple interface and participate

3) Most folks KNOW the interface from the iPhone or iPod touch, so I’m not doing anything magical – just Cool!

Most of all it has just enough power to do what I want to do well – Present a couple of key ideas with visuals from Keynote, supporting evidence from Numbers and capture reaction and action items with other tools.

One of my anticipated products will be MarketCircle’s Daylite & Billings – These Canadian developers are being quiet about their plans, but I have high hopes that they will ship iPad specific versions shortly.

This is all I really need for selling Products, Services or Ideas. It’s all I need for day to day project management meeting, pitch meetings or business reviews.

My other question mark is around this new Apple DataCenter in Maiden North Carolina. 500,000 Square feet of data Center space in one place – one of the largest in the world. At risk of tripping the Wild Ass Speculation Alarms (WASA) at Apple, I think that this facility is a little excessive for just Books, iTunes and a few MobileMe Accounts. This has got to be a Cloud Application play – Perhaps even Remote Client Computing under the MobileMe brand, using the iPad as a Thin Client.

All enabled by the iPad.

Cool – I want one…

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So many times we forget the business we are in, particularly when it comes to IT decisions.

Peter Keen’s excellent The Process Edge describes the 5 types of processes – they are:

Identity – a Process that defines your firm to customers, employees and investors (usually directly associated with the art of the product produced)

Priority – Is excelling at process X critically important to business performance?

Background – a process that supports other processes

Mandated – Legally required (i.e. complience, taxes)

Folklore – (i.e. we have always done the TPS reports) stamp these out as quickly as you can.

What we need to remember is to stick to our Identity processes, spend enough time on Priority processes and if possible, automate or outsource the rest – particularly when it comes to Information Technology. An architectural design firm will never become great by refining its payroll systems. When it comes to the other processes, good enough is good enough.

So here’s where we apply the lesson to IT – and in particular the Desktop/Notebook computer – almost all workers can survive very nicely with a standard configuration, and this should be outsourced to an external provider who provides technology decisions, standard application suites, backup services and disaster recovery. An ¬†external provider also provides an economy of scale that a small or medium business cannot.

For most small & medium companies IT is “necessary evil“. ¬†You must have it, but don’t focus precious brain cells on decisions that could be made externally – this is great outsourcing!