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Summary:

The enterprise is all over the iPad. RIM can’t put the genie back in the bottle, no matter how hard it tries. But what is it about the iPad that appeals to IT departments and employees alike? Why the sudden shocking proliferation?

ipad_business-feature

The enterprise is all over the iPad. RIM can’t put the genie back in the bottle, no matter how hard it tries. But what is it about the iPad that appeals to IT departments and employees alike? Why the sudden shocking proliferation?

Forrester’s Ted Schadler looked at how tablets are making their way into the enterprise in a new report, asking more than 200 companies about their experiences with the iPad (primarily) since January 2010. What they found was both surprising and, in some ways, to be expected.

IT Leads the Charge

First, and most unusual, it looks like the drive to bring the iPad to enterprise isn’t being pushed from the bottom up, as is often the case with new technology adoption at larger companies. Instead, IT departments are stepping up and initiating iPad pilot programs of their own accord. According to Forrester, this time IT doesn’t want to be stuck in the reactionary position of playing catchup, as happened when the iPhone first starting infiltrating the enterprise in a major way.

The numbers reflect this strategy. 30 percent of firms are actively working on tablet apps, while another 43 percent are interested in the devices in some way or another. Considering the newness of tablet tech, those are very high percentages.

How the iPad Is Useful

In the report, Forrester identified three major ways the iPad is working its way into enterprise IT:

  • Displacing Laptops. The iPad is a worthy notebook replacement for many, especially for people who use their portables mainly for email and other forms of web-based communication. But for now, the device is mostly appearing in scenarios where it’s more appropriate, so people aren’t ditching their notebooks entirely at the office just yet.
  • Replacing Paper. We see this happening in the medical and pharmaceutical industries especially. Anywhere people once had to carry around a stack of paper, basically, is a good place for the iPad to step in. In many cases it’s more portable, and it’s definitely much more flexible .
  • New Uses. Where companies may have lacked an efficient way doing something, or at least of doing it in a way that provided instant connection to additional resources and data, the iPad has stepped in to fill the gap. Forrester cites the example of sales floor personnel being able to instantly customize an order with a customer.

The advantages and disadvantages of tablets in enterprise, according to Forrester.

Effect on Business

It’s too early yet to provide solid numbers on the kind of business impact the iPad is having in enterprise, but a few use cases described in the report do point to some pretty significant advantages. One pharmaceutical company, for example, is using iPads to avoid the costs associated with the destruction and reprinting of new marketing materials when changes need to be made, something it’s required to do by the FDA. Sales staff can carry iPads instead of printed materials, so that updates can be issued on the fly, keeping everything current.

The introduction of the tablet isn’t without challenges. Forrester notes that IT will soon be faced with a glut of choice, and recommends prioritizing iOS, Android, and HTML5 first. There’s also the problem of when you can and can’t use an iPad. Office still has only limited support on the device, with no official solution from Microsoft on the horizon.

Problems aside, the iPad is already guaranteed to be a permanent fixture in business. It should provide a way for Apple to heighten the enterprise presence of all of its offerings, since iPad users will want greater cross-platform integration once tablets prove their worth.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. Great article! As a student, the iPad is immensely appealing but unfortunately due to Microsoft Office’s presence (and rightfully so.. Best office suite around
    IMO), I went with a purchase of the new 11″ Air over it. iLife is also something lacking from iPad at the moment. I’m still optimistic however, that one day soon, all I will need to do is grab my iPad and run to class! Lecture slides, notes, the web, entertainment, personal documents and photos all on a tablet.

    PS.. I am seriously loving this Air tho ;)

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    1. I think the Air will have great penetration in the enterprise and academic realms, too, Nick, for exactly the reasons you bring up. It supports Office, and it’s nearly as portable as the iPad.

      If Apple had built-in 3G connectivity, I think it’d be an amazing business threat.

      Share
      1. “If Apple had built-in 3G connectivity, I think it’d be an amazing business threat.”

        I agree it would be a threat, but not for business; almost all of them have Wi-Fi. It would have been a greater threat in the general market where someone would like to have a keyboard and a ‘full’ OS while venturing in areas without Wi-Fi.

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  2. If Apple had built in the same 3G connectivity and no contract option as with the iPad, I would have sold my iPad in a minute. Though there are advantages to the iPad that you don’t have on a computer, but I think I still would have done it.

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  3. While there’s no direct MS Office, lots of app read all the MS Office file formats and really, how many features of MS Word or MS Excel do most people even use? Most people are just reading or typing memos and of course, if you need serious Excel manipulation, who’s even going to use a WIN tablet?

    And while the ipad doesn’t offer a “desktop” or direct folders, it offers up to 60 GB of storage (minus the OS) on a flash drive that’s not likely to crash.

    And while there’s no mouse support – mouse suport would actually defeat the purpose of an ultra portable tablet.

    so a lot of reasons they give as ‘blockers’ are not either wrong or incorrectly worded.

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    1. I use DocsToGo which has Excel, and the newest version has upped the capability of the program.

      Certainly, there are times you need more manipulation, but for a general person and for me, such occasions are few and far in-between. Even in many of those instances, I work up a spreadsheet on my Mac and transfer it to my iPad for updating it as often as I need.

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  4. I want to believe, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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  5. Well written article Darrell. I think the iPad could be a real game changer in the Enterprise. The convenient form factor (stand up, sit down), substantial battery life (look, no wires!), and instant-on capabilities (no waiting 3 minutes for your laptop to ‘wake up’) alone make it worth considering. Throw in all the other benefits and I think you’ve got a winner.

    Plus, as the iPad becomes more and more popular in the consumer world, additional pressures from the top down and bottom up will apply themselves. Let’s face it, we’re only at the very beginning of this paradigm shift. Now that the iPad will be sold in Walmart, Target, and other retail stores, adaptation will grow by leaps and bounds.

    For what it’s worth, I wrote about some of the apps that an Enterprise iPad could deliver: http://blog.elemdage.com/technology/the-enterprise-ipad

    Feel free to provide your thoughts.

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  6. An iPad for Construction?

    At Vela Systems (http://www.velasystems.com), our customers are some of the largest builders in the world. They’ve been waiting a long time for a device like the iPad – inexpensive, powerful, portable that they can put in the hands of all their field personnel – which is why we’ve been so excited about it since it became available http://bit.ly/abXTAC.

    Not only are they using iPads to replace paper, they’re fundamentally changing the way they work on the jobsite. At the “point-of-construction” they can collect and share quality information, perform detailed inspections, and create tasks or issues — all without ever having to walk back to their desks.

    Want to learn more? Talk to us here http://twitter.com/velasystems
    or, subscribe to our blog http://bit.ly/cnG23V

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  7. While I do believe the iPad can do very well in an enterprise, I do miss one option that I don’t see mentioned: the possibilty to install customized apps with out jailbreaking. Like in the examples mentioned where it made things happen more easily, pharma, construction and others. It is not possible to create an app that is just for someone specific. If this would become possible, for instance an Appstore for enterprises or what not, where companies would put apps developed for them, to be seen by them only, would mean an even better penetration of the iPad for business use.

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    1. Mike, if your in the Enterprise and buy the developer’s license you can then deploy your own apps without going through the App store. I also believe you could deploy other apps without going through the App store.

      I’m currently researching deploying the iPad throughout my company and love what it can do for us, but I really believe Apple is missing the enterprise deployment capabilities of it. So far no matter what you do you have to have the iPad plugged into a machine to activate it. Not bad if you have 1-2 iPads, but I will be deploying over 100 and that will just take time. At least with Blackberries I can activate wirelessly anywhere and manage them.

      There is stuff we can do to help with deployment, but it still does take user interaction and nothing I can just push out. If that could be done, this device would be a serious game changer in the enterprise.

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