Why IT departments should support iPad users

Erik Eckel explains why he thinks IT departments should support iPad users and why it could even be a boon to IT staff.

Erik Eckel explains why he thinks IT departments should support iPad users and why it could even be a boon to IT staff.


Many IT departments resisted supporting iPhones. Why bother, many felt, when we have a BES (or other solution) in place?

But that's not what users want, clearly. Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones in just the first quarter of 2010 alone. More important, sales show no sign of slowing, as units sold were up 100% over the same period the prior year. The economy might be struggling, but Apple's technology sales certainly aren't. And in many (most?) cases, corporations aren't even buying the handsets; the users themselves are picking up the expense. That's how badly users prefer the iPhone over competing products.

Look for the iPad to follow in the same footsteps. Apple sold more than 300,000 iPads the day they were released. Further, analysts predict Apple will sell some 7 million units within a year.

Enterprise IT departments, frequently trained to lock out foreign systems and devices in order to tighten security, simplify support and minimize troubleshooting, should consider embracing iPads and supporting iPad users.

When users purchase iPads, they demonstrate interest in learning new and innovative technologies. These users reveal they're willing to learn new ways of working. They show they are seeking new ways to improve communication, enhance productivity, bolster efficiency, and possible find new solutions to old problems.

Aren't those the kinds of efforts corporate IT and larger organizations should be encouraging? It's amazing how quickly so many enterprise IT staff reject new technologies outright, whether due to real or perceived biases. Some observers suggest difficult employees (the kind that might introduce foreign technologies) might be the most productive, and it's no secret happy employees are more productive than grumpy staff.

Consumers are speaking with their wallets as to what makes them happy. Apple's record sales attest to that. So what's the big deal? Configuring my iPad to securely connect to my office's Exchange server took all of twenty seconds. My organization's proprietary information is no more at risk than when I access the same information using a laptop in the field. But my ability to access my calendar, call up a contact and respond to client inquiries more quickly and easily, however, is significantly enhanced.

Countless other applications enable the iPad to solve traditional problems in new and creative ways. Keynote enables delivering presentations, numerous utilities enable connecting remotely to workstations and servers, and others empower connecting to WebEx sessions, updating social media tools used to fuel marketing efforts, and more.

iPads can reduce complexities, as they're less vulnerable to Windows laptop security issues, don't require as much maintenance as traditional computers, and are less prone to common disk errors. The tablet computers further enable remote connectivity (including Windows RDP compatibility) and generally better empower mobile employees.

Enterprise IT staff should consider its real mission, which should be to assist staff in simplifying processes, improving systems, enhancing communication, reducing costs, enabling productivity, assisting mobile access, driving profitability and even boosting morale. iPads, properly managed within the enterprise, can do just that.

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