You Really Can Have It All

Robert Baker, Director of Technology, Cincinnati County Day School
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The CIO's job is to create the most powerful, reliable, flexible and secure environment possible. The two sides of this are  always the IT/support side and the user expectations and experience side of things. It has been my experience that these two  groups of people are often at odds with each other when they clearly need to work together to be successful. I am excited to  have the chance to share with a large group of CIOs what we consider to be the best kept secret in the technology world:  tablet PC's running Windows 8.1. Before I talk about what we have learned over the past 18 years, I want to be sure to point  out that we could not do what we do without tools like active directory, system center and the power of having domain joined  devices to which we can apply group policies, scripting, deploy images and programs and run powerful new and legacy software packages.
 
"If you are not using OneNote, and more specifically shared OneNote notebooks, you really are not taking advantage of all that Office has to offer"
 
As the Director of Technology at Cincinnati Country Day School, I have always had a simple job description: To create the  most powerful teaching and learning environment on the planet. Tablet PCs running Windows with an all Microsoft backend, has  been how we have done just that for 12 of the past 18 years. In 1996 Cincinnati Country Day School was the first school in  the United States to go 1:1 in grades 5-12. We switched to Tablet PCs in 2003 and have been gradually improving our hardware  deployments striving for the best combination of speed, power, portability, battery life, and modalities. Windows 8 tablets with touch, ink and laptop functionality remove all  constraints for users, and allow IT departments to manage, maintain,  support, upgrade and scale efficiently and effectively. I believe we are a micro chasm of companies everywhere.
 
I have a very diverse set of users (mine start with 10 year olds if that makes any of you feel a little better about your  user base).  They all need to do many different things in many different ways. I am trying to remove all constraints for my  users so that I can empower everyone no matter what they want and need to do to be productive. It is truly amazing what is  possible when you deploy the right kind of hardware that removes all constraints and allows users to fit the tool to the task at hand and not the other way around. Need to type up reports, emails etc? No problem.
 
Want to run whatever powerful legacy program you need- check . Want to consume or share information with a colleague or  client on a beautiful thin and light touch screen tablet— giddyup. Want to write, draw, annotate, sketch or highlight while  brainstorming or when offering feedback on a document? Welcome to the power of digital ink. That is why we have used tablet  PCs for last 12 years. They are truly the most powerful devices that exist.
 
We are deploying Microsoft Surface Pro 3's this coming fall and we cannot wait to get these into the hands of our users. This  is the first time we feel like the hardware has caught up to our vision here at Cincinnati Country Day School. I think that  part of the reason tablet PCs haven't been more popular is that they were too bulky and until recently you could only really  use "convertible" tablet PCs that did not allow for the thin and light tablet you need to truly be a tablet. There also used  to be a significant price penalty to deploy tablet PCs but there are more and more options in the hybrid market at lower and  lower price points. Much of the power lies in the consistency of the user experience coupled with the diversity of hardware  options available. IT can support all of these from large screen allin- one desktops down to 8 inch tablets.
 
Tablet PCs with a full operating system, fast processors, full size keyboards, all the external ports you need, Digital INK  and touchscreens are (unfortunately) the best kept secret in technology. Hardware and software have finally caught up with  what CCDS does with technology, making it easier and more affordable to empower every user with a device that can “Do it  all”. Add to all of this the functionality of Office 365 and you really do have it all. We have always run full Office  products and the hidden Gem since 2003 has been OneNote. If you are not using OneNote, and more specifically shared OneNote  notebooks, you really are not taking advantage of all that Office has to offer.
 
Microsoft Office 365 has the potential to enhance workflows and collaboration both internally and externally. Internal sites  and the 1TB of personal space all of your users will have, really do democratize the sharing of content both internally and   with external constituencies. The power of Lync is also included in Office 365 and is seamlessly tied into the Outlook client your users are already familiar with. Whether you want to chat, host a video conference or share your screen with a large  number of people, Lync will do this with ease. Running legacy software and using "Big Data" are also essential at most  companies and Microsoft has developed Project Siena to streamline your APP development and incorporate those legacy  applications when necessary.
 
I do not pretend to suggest that our deployment choices solve everyone's problems or meet all of their needs, but I am  positive that the combination of Microsoft networking, software, hardware and cloud options can meet the needs of ANY  organization. Take the time to learn more about tablet PCs like the Surface Pro 3 and equip your end users with the most  powerful and flexible tools available.

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