Apple iPad: Too important for CEOs to ignore

Apple tablet "has the potential to undermine your whole business model"

CEOs are being advised to take a direct role in ensuring their business evaluates the potential of Apple's iPad within its IT structure, according to Gartner.

According to the analyst, CEOs should act sooner rather than later when it comes to the iPad. "Even if you think it is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the price of delay may well be extremely high," Stephen Prentice, vice president at Gartner, told

Sales of tablets have soared in recent months: 20 million of the devices are expected to sell in 2010, with shipments dominated by the iPad.

CEOs must investigate the iPad

CEOs are advised to investigate the iPad
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

Despite tablets' increasing popularity among consumers and growing interest among CIOs, enterprise take-up of the iPad has been low, with most devices finding their way into the office through individuals who bring the hardware in from home.

The fact that individuals are willing to spend their own money to buy an iPad for use at work demonstrates that "it is a very significant development" in business, Prentice told

And although there may be some resistance to Apple kit from traditionally Windows-centric IT departments, Prentice said that "people will use [iPads] whether businesses support them or not" , adding enterprises must "acknowledge the reality of what is already happening" and learn how to make the most of the new technology.

While CIOs may want to avoid presenting their CEOs with a new cost at a time of economic crisis, "now is exactly the time to use every competitive edge you can get", he added.

Prentice recommends that CEOs get their marketing and sales staff to experiment with the iPad as the "social hardware" factor of the device - "it asks to be passed around" - is likely to lend itself well to their departments.

While Gartner is advising CEOs to take a look at the iPad, Prentice also told that once other, similar tablet devices become available, businesses should consider the use of these devices in the same way.