iPad business intelligence development for lawyersMitch Lazar (@mitchlazar), CEO of Taptu and one of the co-founders of CNN.com, wrote at TechCruch yesterday that ‘Tablets are Transforming Business Intelligence.’

Staying on top of your game and understanding the competitive landscape is essential to winning in the modern business world. A huge component to staying ahead of the curve is keeping a close eye on competitors in your market, which entails maintaining a watchful eye on industry news. Some companies turn to expensive news monitoring services to keep track of their respective industry, but in reality there are more viable options. Emerging tablet news and information services like Flipboard, Pulse and others are proving an incredible companion to business and consulting executives in staying current with industry changes occurring around them.

Lazar’s comments followed my discussions with leading lawyers in Vancouver this weekend on the value of the iPad for business intelligence and business development.

I was in Vancouver to present to the Law Firm Alliance (LFA) Saturday morning and to spend time with many of their members on Friday evening and into Sunday morning. As way of context, LFA is a network of 50 mid-sized law firms located around the globe bringing together together the expertise of over 2,500 attorneys.

I spoke on what I believe more than anything, that the Internet is a powerful tool to get work through relationships and your word of mouth reputation. As LexBlog’s President, Kevin McKeown, puts it, the Internet is a reputation and relationships accelerator. Business development on steroids, if you will.

The iPad is upping the rate of acceleration. I did my whole presentation via an iPad, whose presentation apps were superior to that of my MacBook Air. I  also could then use my iPad to show lawyers the business development apps, in action, available to them – Mr Reader, Flipboard, Zite, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.

When I stepped off the podium, lawyers were waiting to show me the apps they had already loaded on their iPads. The lawyers told me right then about the business development power they saw in the iPad and the apps available on it.

I spent time with some of the lawyers Saturday afternoon. They wanted personal coaching on how to leverage the Interent, and particularly the iPad, to build relationships and grow their reputations.

At dinner Saturday evening, lawyers came up to me and said they were going to buy an iPad. When I kidded a lawyer from Rotterdam I was dining with that I should have told the crowd Saturday morning that I was going to do an informal afternoon session over beers in the Fairmount lounge, but they needed to walk over and get an iPad first, he told me he would have. Another lawyer from Vancouver told me the same thing.

A five or six hundred dollar investment to both save time and grow their business was nothing to them. It made all the sense in the world.

I’m obviously not alone in my thinking.

Lazar cites Jeff Cavins, CEO of Fuzebox, who recently wrote in Business Insider that the explosive uptake of tablet computers is fueling the growth of what he called the new “iPad economy.”

The iPad is shifting the way businesses function, changing how executives interact and transforming the economics of today’s business operations.

Lazar hits on three big advantages of tablets and their apps. I agree, but it’s iPad by far over other tablets. Better search and filtering offers essential time savings.

Google News and Google Alerts were a step in the right direction, but these services don’t always give you the news you want when you need it. As users continue to adopt tablets as a primary reading outlet, there is a huge opportunity to create real-time, targeted news experiences. Apps like Zite, which was bought by CNN in 2011, aim to learn about users’ interests through the stories they read, and provide related content based on those preferences. News-reader apps give users the power to create their own streams of content based on keywords to offer analysis of the topic across any genre of content, keeping them constantly updated in the ever-changing world of business.

Gesture based information consumption increases efficiency.

News-readers give users the opportunity to scan hundreds of articles in a few moments and immediately delve deeper into the most interesting content. News-reading services do all the heavy lifting by aggregating the stories that match your interests, giving you more time to spend reading the news you care about rather than searching for it. The same way Evernote helps you save your daily thoughts and ideas all in one spot, news-readers concisely track what’s going on in every field that interests you.

Beyond increasing efficiency, news-readers also allow for easy sharing of any stories of interest with your community of colleagues or friends. Every blog and news site has its own way to share stories you enjoy with friends, but they are not always convenient for users. Tablet apps make sharing simple, while still driving traffic back to the original source.

Bookmarking makes for easier follow up.

When browsing a vast number of stories every day, it’s often hard to keep track of the important ones, or to flag them down once you’ve flipped past. Easy in-app bookmarking tools such as Pocket or Instapaper make for a better overall experience because returning to a piece of interesting news is simple. Creating your own playlist through bookmarks is intuitive, as is sharing that list with colleagues, which is an asset for group collaboration.

We’re all busy. But you won’t be able to take the excuse ‘I didn’t have time’ to the bank when your business didn’t grow. You cannot, as a law firm, sound like newspapers did seven or eight years ago when they said we’ll be okay as tech luddites – we’re all luddites.

The iPad and its apps will kickstart your productivity, efficiency and knowledge sharing. Sharing information you’ve gleaned via the iPad will accelerate your reputation and relationships as a lawyer like no other tool today.

There’s a reason 67 million iPads (up 17 million since January) have been sold.