Summary:

Apple is making big strides in the enterprise, thanks in large part to the success of its mobile devices. More than the devices themselves, the cool factor surrounding Apple could be its key to growing enterprise presence, according to a growing number of experts.

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Apple is making inroads among enterprise customers like never before, thanks in large part to the success of its mobile devices. Those devices, combined with the cool factor surrounding Apple devices, could be the key to future adoption of all Apple products by business, Macs included, according to a growing number of experts.

Zdnet‘s Larry Dignan spoke to Bausch + Lomb CIO Alan Farnsworth in an interview published Friday, and Farnsworth said that part of Apple’s strength in enterprise applications is the ability of its devices to maintain the interest of employees who otherwise might not pay much attention to IT initiatives. Bausch + Lomb was early to adopt the iPad, and now has 1,700 Apple tablets deployed. The company uses iPad 2s for employees who deal with customers regularly, and shifts older models to other workers, including some on the manufacturing floor, according to the Zdnet report.

Farnsworth also said that Mac support is on the way, in an effort by IT to meet employees where they’re already comfortable:

If you let people communicate at work like they do at home they will be more productive. We had iPhones before iPads and we ramped up with Apple once we started using the iPad. Now we have Mac pilots underway.

Ingenix CIO Art Glasgow also believes that cool is more of a factor than some might think when it comes to enterprise deployment. A couple of months ago, Glasgow told ReadWriteWeb that the iPad has the double threat of being both cool and useful:

Cool matters and usability rules the day so devices like the iPad have to be not just accounted for, but designed for. The good news is that devices like the iPad aren’t just cool. They are flexible, multifunction tools that are changing the way we work and create and in that sense may very well be not just an innovation themselves, but a catalyst to innovations.

You could argue that the value of Apple’s coolness factor is more of a secondary consideration when it comes to its enterprise success, but I think there’s actually plenty of evidence to the contrary. Dell executive Andy Lark, for instance, pointed out a number of fairly good reasons why the iPad isn’t practical in the enterprise, and there are no shortage of articles with sound arguments against the adoption of Apple products by IT departments.

Apple faces a lot of technical challenges in convincing companies to deploy its products, but they’re adopting them anyway, with 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies testing or deploying iPhones as of July. That’s because Apple’s biggest strength for enterprise users lies in the cachet that comes with the Apple brand. Enterprise users are consumers, too, so both internal and external clients at any corporation are, by and large, going to be drawn to Apple products, which can streamline the adoption of new tech initiatives among employees and help sell to customers.

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