iPads in the Enterprise

Kevin Smith
by
on 04 October 2011

In May 2011, Model Metrics did a survey into enterprise adoption of tablets. The full report can be found on their website here. The survey of 450 business and IT executives revealed some interesting figures. It also revealed a clear lack of strategy when it comes to mobile adoption in the workplace. But what exactly did it say and what does it mean for business today?

The survey states that, with regard to tablet adoption in the enterprise:

  • 78% plan to have deployed tablets by the end of 2013
  • 83% plan to deploy Apple iPads while 34% plan to deploy Android devices.
  • 51% have no clear strategy for adopting iPads and tablets.

The figures are perhaps a little startling. I was initially quite surprised at the number of businesses who sited iPad as the tablet that they plan to deploy. On reflection I think this is a fair indication of the tablet market as it stands today. Apple dominate the tablet market with 80% of all tablets sold being iPads. It is not surprising then, with the massive head start and the sizable overspill from consumer consciousness, that iPad is the obvious choice for business. While this is likely to change over time, Apple does seem to have the monopoly on the immediate future of tablet use in the enterprise.

Tablets to be deployed in the enterprise by OS

But perhaps the most interesting point that this survey makes is that while there seems to be an innate understanding of both the nature and usefulness of tablets, at the same time there is a complete lack of understanding about how you actually go about managing and deploying them. There is also a clear disconnect between the people who want to deploy them and the IT departments that will have to manage them. Many stating that management simply do not understand the additional resources and skills that are required.

 

Again, on reflection this is not so surprising. Enterprise has existed in a world dominated by Windows and Linux for many years. The platforms, nuances, and tools are pretty well understood. Tablets, and especially the iPad, are unfamiliar. They have an unfamiliar software distribution mechanism, unfamiliar policy management and to most, an unfamiliar software development process. IT departments are right to be wary. While we should not hide from, or ignore the adoption of new technology, we must acknowledge the time and money that is necessary to invest in understanding it.

The need for iPad development and resources

So if you are in the 83% of enterprise that are planning to deploy iPads in the near future, what things do you need to gain an understanding of now to ensure you can develop a winning strategy? Here are perhaps just a few to help get you started:

  • Understand how they can benefit your staff, your business and your clients. Tablets offer unique opportunities for mobile working and collaboration that compliment laptop and desktop use. Read about these here
  • Explore the Apple documentation. Read about the specifics of adopting iPads for in-house applications and development here [pdf]
  • Determine if and how you are going to develop and deploy iPad apps to integrate with your existing systems. iPad application development (and deployment) requires skills your existing IT department may not already have. Consider outsourcing development initially and/or seeking consultancy.
  • Understand that deploying iPad applications in the enterprise is very different to creating iPad applications for your clients. You will require different distribution channels and adoption strategies.
  • If you are considering applications for your customers that add value to new or existing products consider making a free app, or apps, available on the app store.
  • If you want to develop large scale solutions for your customers that are based on iPads running specialised applications, especially ones that are unlikely to get approved by Apple, consider managing it like an in-house deployment and selling it as a service.

 

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