iPhone in Business


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Architecture in motion

For most businesses, the term “currency” refers to financial resources. But at international architecture firm RTKL, currency is synonymous with the company’s wealth of innovative design ideas. With offices from Baltimore to Shanghai and award-winning projects spanning six continents, unlimited communication is key to keeping the firm’s intellectual capital flowing. That’s where iPhone comes in.

“Our culture is based on visual information,” explains RTKL Vice President Thom McKay. “And iPhone allows us to exchange that information, that visual currency, with a level of immediacy that we didn’t have only a few short years ago.”

iPhone enables RTKL’s architects, designers, engineers and other staff to share detailed visuals and build on each other’s ideas, even when team members are literally oceans apart.

With iPhone, says McKay, “we’re not just faxing or sending PDFs. We’re actually collaborating across the devices — across cultures, across geographies, across time zones — with great ease and facility. For contacts, calendars and e-mail, it’s all there. By combining these things into a single handheld device, iPhone has made many people happy.”

Demystifying Deployment

So far, RTKL has deployed iPhone to approximately 450 staff members — about half of the company’s global workforce. Configuring the phone to work with the firm’s existing systems was “a no-brainer,” says Ardie Aliandust, CIO and Vice President of Technology.

“From the IT standpoint, our integration with Exchange was really simple,” he says. “Almost a non-event. We were able to integrate iPhone into our corporate network seamlessly, not only for voice calling and web access, but also to access many of our internal information resources.”

Via a VPN connection to the RTKL intranet, staff can take advantage of corporate resources such as a digital image bank of more than 15,000 images. “Having access to our digital image bank has been extremely helpful, especially because I travel so much,” notes McKay. “I can review campaigns, photographer portfolios or ad mock-ups while I’m travelling. iPhone has made it extremely easy to do that.”

Building New Ideas

In a business based on visual interchange, it’s essential to find resources that facilitate the flow of ideas and inspirations. One advantage of iPhone, says RTKL Vice President Katie Sprague, is that it gives them a flexible, expandable toolkit for creative collaboration.

“We all knew that the way our business worked would fit seamlessly with how iPhone is organized,” she says. “Each of us brings our own set of apps to meetings. I might want to look at colour palettes. I use myPANTONE, so I can pull things up then and there without having to bring all my chips with me.”

With tens of thousands of inspiring apps to choose from, iPhone helps keep the creative conversation going at RTKL. “One of our senior designers downloaded SketchBook Mobile Express and was using it to kick around ideas on a project,” McKay recalls. “It was just wonderful to see him sketching with his fingertip on ideas for this new museum we’ve been working on.”

iPhone apps also simplify international business travel for RTKL staff. “I like to use FlightTrack Pro to see what's up with my flights,” says Sprague. “Am I on time, am I delayed, what's going on with gate changes?”

Bringing Worlds Together

For the creative professionals at RTKL, one of the greatest benefits of iPhone is its ability to transmit and display rich visual information. “Virtually everything we do is based on a picture, an image, a drawing, a sketch, an animation,” says McKay. “iPhone has been perfect for us because it allows us to exchange ideas and share sketches, PDFs and JPEGs. It’s made communication easier and more immediate.”

But iPhone doesn’t just enhance the firm’s creative capital, Sprague adds: It also brings together a world’s worth of business information, from deadlines in Dubai to contacts in Chicago.

“We’re a global firm, and iPhone is a global device,” she says. “We truly are networked as a result. I'm really excited that the idea of creativity and business can live together. This tool thinks the way we think. It absolutely has changed the way we work.”


  • International architecture, engineering and urban design firm
  • Founded 1946 in Annapolis, MD
  • A subsidiary of global engineering firm Arcadis
  • www.rtkl.com

“We’re a global firm, and iPhone is a global device. This tool thinks the way we think. It absolutely has changed the way we work.”

Katie Sprague, Vice President, RTKL

“Our culture is based on visual information. iPhone allows us to exchange that information with a level of immediacy that we didn’t have only a few short years ago.”

Thom McKay, Vice President, RTKL

“We were able to integrate iPhone into our corporate network seamlessly, not only for voice calling and web access, but also to access internal information resources.”

Ardie Aliandust, CIO and
Vice President of Technology, RTKL

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