iPad: the new business imperative

I facilitated an event in London last weeek dealing with the integration of iPads (and other post-PC devices) into the corporate environment. The organisation had to move the event into a bigger, more central venue: there were at least three times as many takers as for most normal events.

The event itself was under Chatham House rules, so this is not a report. Anything in this posting comes from my pre-event research. But simply: the size of the response to this event shows what a topical topic this is (if I may put it that way). And yes, the stimulus from the “Christmas present factor” (or other ways that top executives acquire iPads and then demand to be able to use them) is real; but so too is the portfolio of business uses and softer, but no less real, benefits that are emerging.

From my own past life, for example, I know that pharmaceutical sales reps will jump on any device which starts up very fast, is lightweight, is minimally intrusive into a conversation, and yet can hold the amount of data that’s needed, support a clear presentation, and capture post-interview comments easily. Reps get very little time for “detailing” with a doctor. In the time a conventional laptop can start up, you’ve lost them. The iPad takes three seconds, or thereabouts.

There are certainly some issues which challenge a conventional corporate IT approach. The issue of securing corporate data on user-owned devices bubbles to the top, not least since some of the demand comes from the highest levels of the organisation where the information is the most sensitive. There’s the fast-moving consumer market, which means that by the time enterprise IT has evaluated a device it’s no longer available. There are issues about expensing (or not) the data element of a mobile access plan. And many more. One snippet that caught me out for a while: a new meaning for the acronym MDM. The M and D being Managed are Mobile Devices, not Meta Data, now!

There are, I guess, three corporate attitudes to the iPad and other smart consumer devices. They can all be rationalised, but I suspect are actually emotional and instinctive. So: does your enterprise see the iPad as a headache, to be banished if at all possible? Or as an inevitability, so that you’d better be accommodating? Or as an opportunity, worth exploring to identify real business benefit?

Here are some links from my research, which will give you points to think about.

• Deploying iPads and other post-PC devices: workshop, Corporate IT Forum, London 27 Jan 2011 (reports available for members)
• How to Secure the Corporate Data on Your iPad or iPhone: Gartner, 15 Dec 2010, ID G00208576 (I was fortunate to catch an early open-access copy of this document; it’s now for-fee only)
• ABi (Anything But iPad) Business Tablets Face An Uphill Slog In 2011, Ted Stadler, Forrester blog, 5 Jan 2011
• Good on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Good Technology provides management tools for enterprise mobile devices

You may also find these interesting in this context:

• Own Nothing. Control Everything, Forrester Research, 22 Jan 2010 (members only full access) discusses the issues regarding enterprise assets stored on user-owned devices.
• Own nothing – control everything: five patterns for securing data on devices you don’t own, Andrew Jaquith (Forrester), Computer Weekly, 8 Sept 2010, a public version of the Forrester report
• Forrester Wave: Data Leak Prevention Suites Q4 2010, 14 Oct 2010; this report is available via CA


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