iPad

Apple iPad is already breaking through in the enterprise

Sales of the Apple iPad have been on a tear, but it hasn't been clear who exactly is buying them. We got part of the answer this week. It's the enterprise.

Last month at the CEA's mid-year trade show in New York, I had an interesting conversation about the Apple iPad with Jeremy Toeman, one of the smartest guys in the tech space. Jeremy and I were talking about the report that Apple had sold three million iPads in the product's first 80 days.

Like most analysts and observers, we were both a surprised at how quickly the iPad was hitting critical mass, but not surprised that people were responding well to the device itself. After all, we'd both traveled to the conference with an iPad in tow. Jeremy brought his iPad in place of a laptop and used it as his primary computing device throughout the trip. I brought my iPad in addition to my laptop and used it during my flight to New York to prepare my notes for the panel that I moderated at the event.

As we talked about the iPad's big sales numbers, I told Jeremy that I was skeptical about whether the brisk sales would continue and turn the iPad into a bigger trend. After all, I said, the sales could all be to tech geeks like us who can't resist trying the latest gadget. The iPad is simply the flashiest gadget any of us have ever seen, but I argued that that doesn't mean that it will be useful to regular people.

Jeremy emphatically disagreed, saying the first million sales were likely to tech geeks but the next wave of sales after that were to others. At the time, neither he or I had many ideas about who those "others" might be, but we were both interested to see how things would shake out when more information surfaced about who was buying iPads.

On Wednesday, we learned where a chunk of those sales are coming from: Large corporations.

Bloomberg reported that Wells Fargo, Mercedes-Benz, and SAP are among the enterprises buying iPads. Forrester analyst Ted Schadler said, "This iPad thing has taken the world by storm. It came in as a consumer product and very quickly the people who actually bought them were business people."

Dan Shey, director for enterprise at ABI Research, said, "A lot of businesses right now are in experimentation with these devices."

Here are the experiments that are happening at the three companies that Bloomberg mentioned.

Mercedes-Benz

The luxury automaker started using iPads on showroom floors as an experiment at 40 U.S. dealerships in May. The iPads were used to present and execute the various financing options for customers without having to go sit down in an office. The experiment is going well enough that Mercedes is now looking at deploying iPads to all 350 of its U.S. dealerships.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo quickly recognized the potential of the iPad. The weekend that it was released in April, Wells Fargo noticed that finance executives from some of its largest accounts were using iPads to access corporate accounts. So Wells Fargo decided to experiment with the iPad for its own internal use.

Bloomberg reported that Well Fargo "spent two years studying the iPhone before letting bankers use the device at work. Apple Inc.'s iPad, released in April, took just weeks to get cleared." The company ordered 15 iPads to start, and used two of them to help demonstrate some of its financial products at a conference for investors on May 13-14.

Now the company is ready to deploy more iPads. Wells Fargo senior vice president Megan Minich said, "We've got a bunch ordered."

SAP

SAP chairman Hasso Plattner gushed about the iPad at the company's Sapphire conference in May. After the event, Plattner said that 8 of 12 company representatives he met with at the conference were using the iPad. Of course, SAP is not just your normal enterprise but is also the world's largest business software developer, and the company has already released an iPad app so that its customers can access their reports and corporate data with the iPad.

However, the company is also using and supporting iPads internally. Co-CEO Jim Hagermann Snabe uses one. So does Rob Enslin, the North America president at SAP, who says that he now carries an iPad instead of a laptop when he travels. "It's allowed me to almost run a paperless office," said Enslin. He said that he uses the iPad to access business apps, briefing documents, customer information, and other corporate data.

Sanity check

We have to be careful not to take these few examples and extrapolate too broadly about the uptake of the iPad in the enterprise, but it's clear that the iPad is generating some genuine enthusiasm -- and sales -- from some prominent corporate customers. This is certainly a much better reception than the iPhone got when it was first released. There were a few pockets of enterprise interest back then, but it was mostly drowned out by the skepticism of traditional IT and business professionals. Not so with the iPad.

I thought it was interesting that Wells Fargo noted that it took two years to get the iPhone accepted, but only a few weeks to bring in the iPad. In many ways, the iPhone has paved the way for the iPad, both technologically and culturally. I also think that through the iPhone, Apple has learned how to interface with the enterprise more effectively. As i wrote last week, I still don't think Apple is officially cozying up to the enterprise, but the iPhone and iPad have become enterprise products, for better or worse, and Apple is doing what it can to help remove the traditional enterprise obstacles.

Now that that door has swung wide open, some enterprises are ready to walk in. And that explains where some of these iPad sales are coming from.

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Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

38 comments
wbranch
wbranch

Unless you can make the iPad your only computing device, it won't gain traction in a given enterprise. Remember, IT is still viewed as a cost center, not a revenue center, therefore IT needs to keep its budgets in mind. You can't be buying every user 2 machines, one laptop/desktop and one iPad. I even seriously doubt the notion of replacing one projector already set up with 8-10 iPads based on cost alone. I'm not surprised trials are going on, and no doubt it will catch on in some areas, but those will be the places where the user can function with only an iPad in hand, and doesn't need another box to complete additional tasks. Also worth noting, none of the test cases you cited match what the thinking was for the iPad use cases before it came out. All I heard pre-release was medical technology use, but here we're seeing it in finance and sales areas. Funny how often we're sure of how a device will be used, and once it's released to market, it takes on an unexpected life of its own.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It's definitely true that people are creative in putting technology to use in ways that its creators never imagined. It's one of my favorite dynamics in the tech industry.

QAonCall
QAonCall

being cool. Techies want it. Consumers want it. CEO's want it. Apple sells it. Get the picture?

AlphaCentauri
AlphaCentauri

Don't know about you, but I as a developer like to stay current. Companies using antiquated tools and technology aren't attractive to me. So, denied works both ways. Right now apple is cool and fun to work on. Tomorrow it will be something different. Am I selfish in that. Absolutely! It's competitive out there.

dwdino
dwdino

The word is DENIED!

CreamingSoda
CreamingSoda

I can't imagine it could be used for wide use in the inustry...

Digicruiser
Digicruiser

Dump the iPad, the Cisco tablet coming soon has the outputs you need etc and should better for expansion - hell, it even has a memory card slot! It can be used as a Video conferencing phone when placed in it's dock and so on. Much suited to Enterprise software, so why bother with iPad unless you just one of these people who likes to show off with the latest "toy".

alexlee
alexlee

just the other day, siting outside the main conference hall of a virtualisation forum. The vendor pulls out his iPad. Showing me his Outlook 2010 pulling emails of his exchange 2010. launched the powerpoint and excel 2010. There after , started the Navision ERP. All via the iPAD. They had me at outlook 2010.

AZ_IT
AZ_IT

I know that the iPhone is a popular device and that the iPad has generated a lot of enthusiasm and for good reason but if I remember right Apple didn't fare to well at the pwn2own contest. So my question is are any of these corporate users even considering security when deploying these devices? I know if my bank started using Apple products on a broad scale I would at least consider moving my accounts to another institution. So what does the community think about the security of Apple devices?

travis.duffy
travis.duffy

Being in the financial services industry myself I cannot see how wells fargo is able to have ipads and iphones on their network and still comply with regulations and pass exams. Our mobile devices are required to be encrypted. And the examiners look at what encryption is used. Iphone encryption can be broken in under 10 minutes. No way that meets compliance. I've said it before, I'll say it again, and when it happens I'll be saying i told you so. The next largest data breach in history is going to be from a compromised ipad or iphone. Then we'll see how many think it was such a good idea to introduce this into the enterprise.

Joaquim Amado Lopes
Joaquim Amado Lopes

Do you know what kind of devices employees use to access your bank's network, what are it's internal IT security policies and to what degree those policies are followed? And, if you do change your accounts to another institution because your bank starts using Apple products on a broad scale, will you have any control on what kind of devices that other institution will deploy in the future? I'm guessing "no" to both questions.

AZ_IT
AZ_IT

however the question I was actually posing was one of security. What does the community think about the security of Apple devices? Would you deploy them as part of your enterprise strategy and if you have what are some of the ways you can harden them to minimize the risk of a data breach?

Joaquim Amado Lopes
Joaquim Amado Lopes

Not only I have 0 (zero) influence on what kind of devices are deployed in the company I work for or in our clients, I'm not qualified to make that kind of decisions. But I can tell you that, although we use and deploy mostly MS software, our senior IT guy uses a Mac and an iPhone. Anyway, I just replyed to our comment. Cheers.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I'm wondering if some of the companies who already have them have them because the big boss [one or more of them] are gadget freaks and decided that the company should have them without figuring out exactly what they will do with the iPad - aside from showing off photos of the big cheese's family. On the other hand, it's another thing that the IT department has to support in a time where IT budgets are shrinking and they don't really need to support something as well as add it to the hardware budget [probably killing off a deployment of a few laptops or a couple of servers in the process]. Really. What major advantage can you get from an iPad over a laptop. In comparison, with the iPad, it sucks in multitasking, users may be uncomfortable with the "keyboard" and "mouse" and would prefer external ones, no optical drive, .... I can see cracked screens if an iPad is used by multiple people instead of one. Why? if you know it is yours, you tend to care for it better. With multiple users, they don't care as much and won't do a thing unless something is not working but interfering with what they want to do.

asolomon
asolomon

It's perfect for auto showrooms -- they get you to sign on the dotted line while you're in the car, not on the hard chair by the desk. You're more comfortable and in a less confrontational mood. "Yes, I'll take the extended warrantee and underbody protection package".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's enlighening to hear stories from the field, but most of these applications sound like they could have been done with any of the Windows-based tablets of the last decade. I'm sure companies the size of these must have been aware of pre-iPad tablets. I wonder if they tested and rejected them (and if so, why), or if they made their first test of such devices based on the iPad buzz. I still don't expect to see one here this year; I haven't seen an iPhone here yet.

Ian Wright
Ian Wright

Charlie, it's all about the usability and aesthetic. No tablet (or laptop) has come near the iPad. In a sense, ignore the technology, it's what it does and how it does it that is the game changer. Most of the criticism is from techies who don't seem to get the user experience. For evidence, read most of the techie posts here and in other forums discussing the iPad. (And yes, there are many valid concerns with security, integration etc. that I hope will be addressed over time.)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

and you probably won't be the last. Until someone can demonstrate to me the iPad will function as a primary device, not a secondary one, I don't see us deploying it. We're strictly a 'one person, one machine' shop, from the VP level on down.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Or any of my users? I can run virtual connections on my desktop now. I have no reason for a portable device to do so. Those of my users with laptops can too. As I noted earlier, we don't purchase more than one device per employee.

docmac100
docmac100

With desktop virtualization you can run a whole windows session on an ipad.

rowdydave
rowdydave

...as IT professionals, we must allow our minds, if not our purchasing and testing budgets, go to where the technology is headed, not where it is now, or where it was a few days ago. If we're not deploying, we should be considering, buying demos, and/or testing new technologies all the time. I agree it may be best to wait until the price comes down and the bugs worked out to make bulk purchases, but it is our mandate to make every effort to stay ahead of the demand our customers will no doubt produce.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"How many of your employees use their web based personal e-mail at work or Skype for IM on their company PC's? AIM? MS Live? Google apps? Skydrive? MS Office On Line? Drop box?" We block most of web-based e-mail sites. Obviously users can forward their e-mail to their work account if they want, and vice versa. Stupid question: why would one use one's personal e-mail to conduct work if one has a work account? I'm unaware of Skype or IM clients on any machines here. Obviously I don't know everything about 225 systems at all times, but my users don't have Admin rights. I've never see a microphone when walking around. Same question regarding Google Apps and Office On Line: if you've already got Office on your system, why bother? Same question regarding cloud storage: if you've already got access to the server, why bother? Besides, we block most of those too; unsecured data would be a major policy violation and termination would be a likely option.

brookem
brookem

Like kudzu, it won't happen overnight but it will happen. How many employees had cellphones and personal e-mail accounts at Y2K? This iPad deal is moving faster and with all the competitors heading to market, the price will drop in a lot by this time next year. How many of your employees use their web based personal e-mail at work or Skype for IM on their company PC's? AIM? MS Live? Google apps? Skydrive? MS Office On Line? Drop box? They're already connected.

jfuller05
jfuller05

Exactly. I know what you mean. It's still early, why waste money on a device that will be fixed and perfected (ok, that might be stretch) in a year or two? I usually wait for the latter, better, and cheaper "service packs" of devices. Like with new game systems. At first, the price is outrageous; wait a while, the price goes down and then, there are better games. There are many other examples, but I believe the point is made. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Only four times have I had a user bring in a personal device and ask me to connect it to company systems. Two were printers, one was Palm Pilot; all were approved. We had one request to connect an employee's Blackberry to our BES; it was turned down by the service desk manager. I've never seen a rogue WAP, either. That's in the 17 years I've been at this location. I've yet to have a request to connect an employee-owned netbook, iPhone, or iPad. By policy, we won't connect personally owned laptops or desktops, period. Maybe people in other parts of the world spend more of their disposable income on consumer technologies than my co-workers. Maybe those here that do figure the company shouldn't benefit from their personal purchases. Maybe they just don't feel stongly enough about their jobs to spend personal income on them. Maybe the company has enforced rigorous hardware policies for so long no one even bothers asking any more. When (I'm not sure 'if' isn't appropriate where I work) an iPad show up, it will be a CIO call as to supporting it. If she says, 'Jump', I'll start hopping; so far she hasn't ordered any pogo sticks. It's still early in the life cycle of these devices; more are coming that may be better suited to what we do here. What's the rush?

brookem
brookem

Think of iPads as IT kudzu. They'll just be there, nothing you planted or watered. 10 year old's play Internet hosted interactive games on a Wii, with wireless wi-fi. It's just there. Post Office laid off 40,00 people last year, mostly to volume reduction. Mama uses e-mail. Turn it on and it works. The price will drop and it will spread. Burn it, chop it, spray it, curse it and ignore it but it'll keep coming.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

that the Tablet PCs were just too expensive. That's the feedback I saw from most enterprise folks. Tablet PCs were also difficult to use so it was more of an obstacle to train employees to use them. These touch-based tablets are more limited in many ways, but they're a lot cheaper and they're easier for end users to operate.

QAonCall
QAonCall

I think a point of contention now and in the near term, is software application distribution. If I want an application to be installed, in the enterprise, I want my admins controlling that. If I want an update, I want that control as well. As more applications migrate tot eh web, this may be a non-issue, but I think now it is a consideration. keep in mind, not all enterprises are beyond mainframes, legacy systems and fat clients. MS is required to support the legacy OS's because enterprise dollars speak very loudly. Software distribution may be the Achilles heal for these right now.

Whatevr
Whatevr

We're trialling it as part of two separate pilot projects. We are an organisation of about 25,000 employees in various industry sectors such as mining, engineering, construction and maintenance, manufacturing and consulting. The first was an IT initiative to try and stay ahead of the wave of Exec requests and users bringing their own. We got caught with the iPhone that way and now it's a fully supported device in what was previously a large Blackberry shop (1000 devices). After the first 4 weeks the execs won't give them back, CFOs included. Apple is aware of this and their Enterprise team gives us regular briefings and even though I expected the iPhone and iPad to be gaining traction in the enterprise I'm astounded with each briefing at the size and velocity of the uptake. As one post stated - you can't stop it - you just have to try and stay ahead of the wave to best control it from a support perspective. The other strategy/benefit is that it's winning kudos for IT because we're bringing it to the table instead of the other way around. My team is running a second pilot in the field with technicians for installation/maintenance of subscription TV services contractors. We're also trialling a few netbooks but I fully expect that the iPad will be the choice. In this environment battery life is king, the battery life is up to 3 times longer on the iPad than the netbooks and it also has a touch interface which is far better in the field than a trackpad or similar pointing device. Further as we've discovered through our surveys and feedback and research, the technician community is already used to the iPhone interface - 66% have chosen that as their smartphone of choice, with about 20% choosing Nokia, and then the also rest. Again we were surprised by that uptake. Guys this is real world data - Apple in business and the enterprise - unheard of a couple years back. And to hear the Apple Enterprise team is like being in a dream - am I really hearing this from APPLE! And the most damning evidence from Microsoft's Mobile Head in our region - "we lost out to the iPhone, consumer is king, we're not listening to CIOs and IT anymore when it comes to mobile devices".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"My team is running a second pilot in the field with technicians for installation/maintenance of subscription TV services contractors." I've seen a variety of field techs using handheld devices to update work order status, order parts, etc. Invariably the device has been equipped with a bar code scanner. Does your application require scanning bar codes, and if so, how are you meeting that need?

brookem
brookem

Trying to stop the iPad into enterprise is like trying to stop the wind. IT is in denial. The thing works, it does what people want to do.

gibsonse67
gibsonse67

I'm using an iPad as kind of a anywhere device for logging on to computers I support remotely. I use LogMeIn and I find it very handy when I don't want or need to return to my office or fire up my laptop to reconfigure something. I think this could make a great tier 1 support device if it was a little more hardened for the real world. As far as for the bosses, wouldn't it be nice if we could replace all of the big screen and projection setups for conference meetings and simply hand out a bunch of these? With the right apps, you could use it as a real collaborative device at meetings. With the current easy access to email and the web, it's about 90% ready for most executive use anyway. The best selling points? 1) Instant on - tell me every boss doesn't get goose bumps thinking about that, and 2) Sync/Restore -- how nice that this thing is so easy to reset to a working state?

l_creech
l_creech

For the attorneys to come back and clear it through all the laws in the land for compliance with S-Ox, HIPPA, PCI, etc... My father is in the finance industry and just had a coniption fit when he read this and saw MB and WF using it. WiFi is still a violation in finance, even with WPA2 networks, and Bluetooth isn't secure at all.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Could you ping me when you get the determination from your lawyers (either way). My email is jason dot hiner at techrepublic dot com. I might be interested in doing a story about your case. We can keep it anonymous, if you'd prefer that.

randy_scadden
randy_scadden

The reason Tablet's never really took off was just that fact that they where so cumbersome and took so long to get up and running. Plus the fluidity of the iPad / iPhone interface coupled just with how visually compelling it is just makes for the ultimate user experience. Plus to take a I'm sure trade marked phrase but the iPhone / iPad are so easy to use "even a caveman can do it."

PzR
PzR

We're an IT support firm and have yet to find justification for ipads. My guys all want one, but they've yet to give me a viable BUSINESS reason to buy them. Has anyone in IT found a use for them? I'm curious...