London-based global insurance firm Torus has saved thousands of pounds with its first 'paperless' board meeting in one of three trials of Apple iPads across the company.
Fifteen board members are among 29 executives taking part in the trials, which are also looking at using iPads to run line-of-business software and to administer IT systems.
At the paperless board meeting directors swapped their usual 4-inch thick paper document packs for iPads.
Torus was typically printing 1,600 pages for each document pack. The packs then had to be sent by courier to board members in Bermuda, Jersey and London.
The iPads paid for themselves in the first full board meeting because of the savings in printing and courier costs, said Tim Fillingham, chief operating officer at Torus.
The iPads allows board members to view materials as and when they are written ahead of the meeting and enables them to make changes instantly, he said.
Jeff Smith, information technology officer at Torus, has been working on the trials since April and plans to expand the use of iPads to CRM and policy administration.
"Tablet computers enable a new way of working in which complex information is accessible in real time to users in the firm as well as clients and brokers," he said.
Security has been one of the biggest challenges as the Torus IT team has had to find innovative ways of keeping corporate information secure.
"Apple still has a long way to go on security for the corporate market, and we will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure the iPads are secure enough for our needs," said Smith.
Where possible, board members will use the iPads simply as a reading tool to access documents stored on a central, secure FTP server over a secure company wireless network, he said.
Tablet devices have come along at the right time to make use of a more cloud-based notion of information distribution, where no sensitive information is stored locally, said Smith.
Another thing organisations should keep in mind, said Smith, is that spending more money on the higher capacity 3G-enabled models may not necessarily make sense.
Torus has opted for the Wi-Fi-only models, which are just as powerful, but cost a lot less and will not incur high mobile data costs unnecessarily, he said.
"Few carriers provide unlimited data packages, which means 3G devices could easily become prohibitively expensive, while many low Wi-Fi carriers offer unlimited data at relatively low cost," said Smith.
If businesses operate in the cloud, you do not need on-device storage, so this is one of those rare instances where going for the lowest cost option is the smarter choice in the long term, he said.