Apple’s enterprise inroads extend to GE, local governments

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Apple is making strides with enterprise customers, according to a lot of recent studies, but how does that look on the ground? Two recent examples include a program that’s bringing Macs to old-school corporate heavyweight General Electric, and the ongoing rollout of iPads at the level of local government.

GE seems a somewhat odd entity to be pioneering Mac deployment, since it still carries associations of being the lumbering giant and paragon of ’80s and ’90s big business it was under Jack Welch. But the company has a now one-year-old project that allows employees to choose either Mac or Windows PCs as their work computer, and according to the Wall Street Journal, it now has about 1,000 Macs in active use, with that number expected to rise.

That’s just a small fraction of GE’s 330,000 total computers, but it’s a start, and the gap will likely narrow as employees become aware of the program; GE hasn’t been trumpeting the news internally yet. For a rough comparison of where future adoption might take the Mac at GE, consider that 10,000 GE employees now use iPhones as their official work device, after the company began supporting them in 2008. There are 50,000 BlackBerry devices in use, but iPhones have made up considerable ground in four years time.

Private industry is one place Apple’s presence is growing, but it’s also having big impact in government. At the level of local government, especially, the idea of using iPads to take over some tasks and replace paper is catching on. Software provider Granicus recently released its iLegislate iPad app targeted specifically at government customers, and told us it’s already in use by over 1,500 governments.

One of iLegislate’s customers, the government of Maricopa, Ariz., says the use of iPads by 15 members of its local government, including the mayor, council members and city directors and managers, has allowed them to increase transparency by making more materials available to the public digitally, and save over $5,000 annually in printing costs, plus more in staff time just assembling print packages. Maricopa’s experience sounds strikingly similar to what we heard about Cornelius, N.C.’s findings following a pilot project of its own using the iPad as a tool for making local government more efficient.

Maricopa has experienced a whopping 4,000 percent growth in population during the past decade, and the iPad, partnered with the Granicus software, is seen by the city as a way to help quickly scale its infrastructure to cope with the expansion. Apple’s iPad holds appeal as a way to quickly cut costs, with a green, future-proof solution that can leverage IT initiatives already in place at governments.

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