iPad

Apple has captured the attention of the enterprise

Patrick Gray believes that Apple's iPad has captured the attention of the enterprise with minimal effort. What does this mean for the future of Apple in the enterprise?

During its recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that the company is shifting its sights to the enterprise, where 94% of Fortune 500 have adopted iPads in some capacity, with relatively little effort expended by the company in this market. It's an enviable position to be in: launch a product targeted at one market and have an additional large market clamoring for the same product. Historically, Apple has had very limited success in the enterprise market, so what might this shift mean for companies considering the ubiquitous tablet?

Answers to the eternal question

While Apple likely won't answer that eternal question, one thing it can offer clarity on is how to leverage tablets in the enterprise space. I've admired Apple for "eating its own cooking" and using its products prominently to accomplish real tasks in its stores, where iPads serve as mobile cash registers. Apple handles a massive supply chain and maintains bread-and-butter enterprise applications like SAP. Presumably, Apple is using the iPad internally with these systems and processes, and it's pioneering ways tablets can be leveraged. A shift toward an enterprise focus might see Apple sharing everything from "best practices" to internal software that facilitates its own use of tablets in the enterprise.

Leveraging retail

Many CIOs have shared their complaints about Apple's fledgling enterprise sales division for having aloof attitudes and processes that are incapable of handling things, including trouble tickets and billing. While Apple certainly has some growing up to do in this area, one major asset it has over competitors is its ubiquitous retail stores.

Enterprise IT has long been stuck in the business of procuring, distributing, repairing, and tracking hardware, and one of the hurdles to large-scale tablet adoption is that it presents one more device for IT to manage. Apple could offer a distinct benefit to customers by leveraging its stores as a distribution and repair facility, where iPads could easily be issued and repaired.

Provisioning enterprise software could be accomplished via the existing App Store, and enterprise IT could perform a large-scale device rollout with little more than issuing a PO to the Cupertino company. Similarly, a user with a broken or defective device could drop into the local Apple store on their way home from the office or while traveling and get troubleshooting and repair assistance, all without using a minute of internal IT's time. That would be an enterprise benefit that few competitors could match.

The iPad as a gateway drug

Apple has a successful track record of using a lower-cost device as a "gateway drug" into more expensive products and services. The original iPod rejuvenated Macintosh sales and created a completely new revenue stream in digital music and video downloads from the iTunes store. There are obvious tie-ins at the enterprise level.

With widespread iPad adoption, Apple could offer anything from enterprise software to branded "iPad in the Enterprise" conferences and users groups. While a large-scale shift to Macintosh desktops is unlikely, that doesn't seem to be Apple's growth focus. Apple's iCloud offering presents an obvious enterprise spin-off, with tablet-related consulting and enterprise software certainly not out of the question.

Apple seems to be running on an unstoppable string of hits, but an entrée into the complex enterprise market will not necessarily be a foregone success. On the strength of its product alone, Apple has captured the attention of the enterprise with minimal effort. If it can bridge its current weaknesses in this market, there seems to be an exceptional opportunity. For CIOs and enterprise consumers, this move will hopefully elevate the iPad from a high-potential, experimental device to a fully integrated and supported enterprise tool. If nothing else, this move confirms more exciting times for tablets in the enterprise ahead.

About

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent ...

8 comments
ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

... how long it takes Apple to issue patches for security issues? We have already seen the results of those kinds of delays this year. Do you seriously think the enterprise will stand for those types of lengthy delays when their systems are vulnerable?

tshinder
tshinder

Apple in the enterprise. Come one folks, get serious. This is business. Not Apple losers trolling for pR-n.

hokay89
hokay89

"Similarly, a user with a broken or defective device could drop into the local Apple store on their way home from the office or while traveling and get troubleshooting and repair assistance" This is just completely unrealistic. For me at least, the local Apple store would be 5th ave Manhattan. You dont just "drop by", that place is crowded 24/7. Unless apple stores become as common as At&t or verizon establishments, there will be no casual drop in for support.

amj2010
amj2010

My wife finds this iPad too big for her purse and too unpractical to handle & to store...

anjali189
anjali189

Recently i read the news, Android smartphones has covered the 61% of total US market. and Apple was only 29% even it was 41% in last year's final quarter. So If so then its really good sign for Apple.

danbi
danbi

Once upon a time, nobody could imagine 'computing' without some sort of mainframe. The users accessed those mainframes via terminals -- of all sorts. Nobody cared what make the terminal is, as long as it conformed to the required protocol. Then, the "PC" revolution came along. With the concept that you can run all processing on your own computer, on your desk. Everyone experimented with this, including the enterprises. But, with the enterprises things are more or less fixed now -- they have moved the "servers" from the IT staff desks to the datacenter racks. When the computer is in the datacenter rack there is no any benefit for it to run the "easy" Windows OS -- it has to conform to a number of "mainframe" requirements and as long as it support the necessary protocols, doesn't matter what the hardware or the OS is. This is one of the "wonders" of The Internet - it made any proprietary system obsolete. Avoiding "proprietary" technologies is something Apple learned the hard way and Microsoft still resists (as they think they "own" the enterprise, by locking them in, as once IBM did). If you look in the protocols that Apple uses for various tasks, you will discover that these are pretty much generic protocols and applications, available on any platform today. Apple just polished them and built simple to use UI on top. Therefore, it is way easier to integrate Apple devices into your enterprise network, than it is to integrate Microsoft Windows running devices, because those require all sorts of weird things. That is, if you don't buy into "we run only Windows" mantra. One trouble for the today's IT staff in the enterprise is that Apple devices present real threat for their jobs. Those people have been trained, for the most part that "there is no life outside of Windows". They are considered the "gurus" in the enterprise, because they can babysit or, let's face it "Tamagotchi" an Windows computer. None of this is required for an Apple device, or even if it has issues these are rare and trivial. This threat to their jobs is what makes Windows trained IT staff so furious about anything Apple (or anything non Windows for that matter). Few of them, who are willing to learn basing Internet technologies will survive... the rest -- will follow the fate of the multitude of IBM mainframe "operators" and "support technicians" .. they replaced years ago. History is repeating itself.

rhonin
rhonin

Captured it from a segment of the business perspective, yes. Overall? No. I am sure there are many who may see it as more than it is or wish it was. The company I work for and a couple of others I consult for all allow limited use of iOS devices from outside the company firewall. Web connection (ex: Outlook) is allowed. Basically the same accessability as a smartphone. Seeing this for both iOS and Android - Apple has a lead. Peers I have checked with who are familiar with it acknowledge the same unless a tablet is built into the infrastructure (ex: running WMS software). The 800 lb. gorilla though is Win8. Me? I'm packing bananas.

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