iPads in the Enterprise: The Second Wave

Kevin Smith
on 05 December 2011

Last month, Gartner produced an interesting report into the way tablet computing is well and truly entering its ‘second wave’ in terms of its use in and for business applications. This so called second wave sees tablet computing for business moving away from personal productivity applications and towards manageable and secure enterprise applications to support major business initiatives.

The report talks about tablet computing in general terms but, reading between the lines and looking at the sales figures for ‘tablets’ that are actually in use in the enterprise, you might as well just call a spade a spade. We are talking about the iPad. For the moment at least. However, the report goes on to say:

“By 2016, more than 900 million tablets will be in the hands of users…Leaders are finding legitimate business use and redefining processes for ‘ready at hand’ moments where other computer types are not as well adapted. CEOs often prefer tablets for distributing material for board of directors meetings. Salespeople are using them in client-facing situations; sales configuration tools help close more business and reduce error rates; sales and marketing leaders are using them as dashboards to their business; and marketers are designing campaigns around them.  Doctors and nurses are carrying them; they are even being used on the manufacturing floor. Anywhere you once saw people carrying a clipboard or lugging printed reference material, you’ll find an application for a tablet. “

A Very Big Number

900 million is a big number. Tablet sales for 2011 are currently expected to meet 63 million units. That is a massive amount of growth being predicted. If true, it makes sense to start taking the iPad (sorry, tablets!) seriously. Just the other week I was having a conversation with a couple of business leaders from a well respected IT consultancy company who understand full well the impact mobile is having, and will continue to have, in the corporate IT world . Unfortunately there are still many who fail to see the disruptive nature of these devices, referring to them simply as “boys toys” and “fancy gadgets”. I have heard this on more than one occasion. Every time from someone who has not actually had much (or any) experience with them and yet holds a prominent position in a technology company.

This ‘second wave’ is happening right now. In-fact, it has been happening for quite some time. iPads are silently and unobtrusively invading the workplace; normally starting with the CEO’s and working down. Most second wave apps are not available in app stores but instead are managed by corporate IT departments who find themselves having to work in a wholly different way with a completely different set of technologies. The report actually goes on to suggest that: “IT management systems for mobile device management will be a growing market.”

The Top 10 Commercial Business Applications for Tablets

So, what are businesses actually using them for now and what will they be using them for in the near future? According to Gartner, the top ten comercial business application categories for tablet devices are:

  • Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations, and ordering systems
  • Business intelligence: analytical and performance applications with management dashboards
  • Containerised email to separate corporate messaging environments from personal email
  • Collaboration applications for meetings
  • File utilities for sharing and document distribution
  • General corporate/government enterprise applications for CRM, ERP, SCM and messaging
  • Medical support systems for doctors, nurses, and physical therapists
  • Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments
  • Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
  • Board books for secure document and report distribution


Beyond Boys Toys

I would love to know how ‘normal’ people are already using iPads within their business environment. Whether you disagree entirely with this report or perhaps have an example of somewhere tablet computing has made a positive difference in your organisation, let us know in the comments below. Perhaps its something you are only just beginning to take seriously? or perhaps you are fighting your corner for or against the “boys toys” argument? Why not share your experience with the rest of us?


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