Is Apple hardware and software really ready for business? CIOs speak out

iPhones and iPads are top of the pile for consumers but enterprises may take a different view...

Apple iPhone 4S

iPhones and iPad apps can build brand awareness, but that doesn't necessarily signal a rapid move towards Apple-led enterprisesPhoto: Apple

Apple products are beautiful to look at and easy to use. But are iPads, iPhones and the technology specialist's other user-friendly tools really ready for enterprise deployment? Five CIOs give their opinions on whether Apple technology is really resilient enough for the modern organisation.

Apple tech best suits certain industries

"Enterprises used to drive innovation and that is now definitely not the case," says Julian Self, group operations and IT director at information specialist IPD, who says people are now entering the workplace with their own devices and their own demands.

"There's significant pull-through from consumerisation," says Self. "If strategies to allow workers to buy their own device continue to increase in number, then we will see much more Apple technology in the office. But is it really enterprise-ready?"

Self believes the answer is definitely 'yes' for some organisations in specific industries, such as media and marketing.

But while he believes MacBooks have a great reputation, and that iPhones and iPads can be used as channels to create apps that build brand awareness, he is not convinced there will be a rapid move towards a broad range of Apple-led enterprises.

"Our clients don't really make decisions in the field and, in many businesses, people still need a Windows-led approach," says Self. "At the same time, attempts by Microsoft to move towards gesture-based computing might have an unexpected effect and show sceptics that other operating systems and techniques, such as those produced by Apple, can work in the business."

Locations and standards affect the potential for rollout

Sandeep Phanasgaonkar, president and CTO of financial services giant Reliance Capital, says he expects Apple technology to become an enterprise standard but that geographical location really is a key differentiator between success and failure.

He says the iPad will quickly become viewed as an enterprise device in the US and Europe. But in India, where Phanasgaonkar spends most of his time, he believes cost will mean that Android devices are likely to be more common.

"The fact there's a host of manufacturers that are creating technology at a more attractive price point means we have to cater for high-end customers using Apple technology and everyone else," says Phanasgaonkar, who believes standards will need to be set before smartphone technology can be considered enterprise-ready.

"Mobile devices can be great if you have a workforce that spends a lot of time in the field. But for productivity workers, tablets are not necessarily the right device. Compatibility issues with Microsoft applications remain an issue for non-PC systems and someone really needs to address those concerns for senior executives," he says.

The shift to the enterprise is taking place slowly

Apple has certainly been able to benefit from a strong foothold in the consumer market, so it has not always had to prioritise the enterprise customer, says Kaspersky Lab CTO Nikolay Grebennikov.

He gives the example of incoming alerts from Apple and Microsoft for research and development at Kaspersky Lab. Grebennikov estimates that his team receives one email about potential enterprise issues each month from Apple, while the same team expects to receive...

By Mark Samuels

Mark Samuels is a business journalist and editor at IT leadership organisation CIO Connect. He has written for various organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Guardian Government Computing and Times Higher Education.