Tablets optimize

How to avoid the biggest mistakes when deploying iPads

Erik Eckel points explains how you can avoid the most common mistakes of iPad deployments in your organization.

Consumer Reports settled any disputes this week when it named Apple's new iPad the best tablet computer. The iPad is popular, people are buying them, and they are increasingly being used within small businesses, mid-sized organizations, and large enterprises.

However, that doesn't mean tablet deployments are working perfectly. In fact, organizations are repeatedly making some of the same mistakes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ's top five mistakes

The Wall Street Journal notes that several errors are common to organizations deploying tablet computers. Firms fail to develop effective plans before deployment. Some fail to understand the roles tablets fulfill well. Others believe required applications will prove readily available. Many miscalculate the cost of tablets versus laptops. Some misjudge the ease with which tablets can be supported and secured.

These mistakes are easily avoided. Organizations need only perform a little homework before placing orders and deploying new iPads or tablets.

Have a plan

Companies need to have a plan for tablets. Will only executives receive tablets, or do sales personnel receive them, too? Will the tablets replace laptops in the field, or are tablets going to prove complementary to traditional notebooks? Will the IT department support the tablets or are users on their own? Ultimately, what's the tablet's purpose: increase revenue, reduce costs, or enable more efficient production?

Know how tablets will be used

Companies need to review how new tablet computers are going to be used. Is their purpose to provide remote connectivity? Will they be used by field technicians? Are they merely going to provide email and Internet support to mobile staff? Before tablets are purchased, organizations should know how users will be using the devices, what tasks the tablets will be used to fulfill, and how the tablets are going to add efficiencies and generate revenue.

Know the applications you'll use

Don't assume the apps users require are readily available. Don't assume users can just load an RDP client and connect to desktops or terminal servers remotely. Tablet displays may prove too small for terminal services navigation or use. Form a testing team, if even briefly, and purchase a few units to test in the field. Confirm apps are available and programs work as required and enable staff to perform the tasks the tablets are intended to fulfill. The time to realize tablets don't fit the bill is during proof-of-concept testing, not after you've purchased dozens or even hundreds.

Understand the costs

Sure, firms can purchase entry-level iPad 2s for $399 or iPad 3s for $499. Models with additional storage and network connectivity, however, cost more. 64GB Wi-Fi and 4G-enabled models push $830. And when mobile staff must have cellular data service, recurring monthly costs must be factored in. Over the course of a one- or two-year lifecycle, tablet expenses can easily exceed the costs for business-class laptop computers. Thus, companies must ensure they budget properly and include recurring monthly cellular data costs when budgeting tablet deployments.

Know how to support, secure tablets

Prepare the help desk to support iPads and tablets. Ticket queues will clog, technicians will become frustrated, and end users will lose patience if you don't. Ensure help desk staff members have the documentation for common issues (how to configure Exchange accounts, how to troubleshoot Internet connectivity, how the organization intends staff to purchase and install applications, how to connect to the corporate network via an official VPN, which users qualify for remote access, etc.) and how machines will be remotely wiped should they become lost or stolen. Also determine your security requirements in advance and how they should be met; for example, will users be required to leave sensitive information on the corporate network, thereby leaving the tablets more secure. Establish other security procedures such as passcodes that must be entered for access.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

8 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

This whole list reads like the decision has already been made to purchase tablets; now let's figure out what we'll do with them. Who gets them, what will they be used for, what apps will we run? The approach should be to find existing problems or inefficiencies, then determine if tablets are the best solution among all reasonable options.

csyst
csyst

execs wasting corporate money to look cool....nawwww!

Gritztastic
Gritztastic

The Apple Configurator app for OS X (available on the Mac App store for Free) is what we used to set up 90 iPads with sequentially numbered names, network settings, security settings, etc.

16thnotes
16thnotes

How about a Device Management Strategy? I would have liked to see a recommendation that over say 20 devices, the company should have a central configuration management tool to avoid wasted time with individual configuration of groupwares, application sets, and security policies.

anjali189
anjali189

Great Article and nice topic was selected by you. No Matter whether Android phones or iPhone or iPads or other smart devices, they are all about apps. Thousands of latest apps for these platforms are launched every day, including productivity-boosting apps that are being adopted by companies. Though, if deployed randomly, apps can create major penalty to the enterprises. So there is no reason to ignore these points, and at least these points are may be helpful to learn how you can make sure that your ipad developments activities for your company are truly business assets and not risks.

radleym
radleym

This article seems to indicate that organizations are purchasing iPads without knowing what they will be used for. I hope American companies haven't sunk to the "cool factor" in making business decisions, especially when they are also cutting personnel and salaries. I also hope nobody's pulling in a million dollar bonus for making the execs look trendy.

mdwalls
mdwalls

After 35 odd years in IT and associated policy positions, for government agencies and for large and small private firms, I'd say the bulk of "flashy" technology is bought for the flash and dumped onto the IT group to "make it work" (whatever "work" might mean in this context).

caverdog
caverdog

This is the stated goal of the CIO of an intel agency. Note that security is not mentioned (though it is part of our Name). At GFirst this year (which is Government only) the presenters and audience all knew that iPads and iPhones were deployed to agencies because "the C-Suite insisted" and now we are slapping solutions on to make them work. iPretty doesn't have multiple users, so you can't seperate admin functions, manage centrally, etc. without separate "sit on top" 'ware from companies that didn't exist 4 years ago and may not exist next year. I also haven't been able to get an answer on what business function an iPad does that an HP Windows tablet doesn't do (Windows tablets can be managed through active directory and group policy). We've already spent years to develop enterprise security for Windows, now we have to spend years developing it for iPretty products and Apple has said that Federal is small enough that they don't want to work on hardening. I'm looking forward to Windows 8 phones, not that management will adopt them.