An Office Romance To Celebrate

There is little doubt that the iPad is probably the most desired gadget on the planet, at this point, but are we letting our lust for the device blind ourselves to its obvious limitations as an enterprise tool?

After all this is a device that you can’t use to print from, that doesn’t integrate very well with most of your office software, that you can’t connect to the LAN, that doesn’t run flash, and that really isn’t built for typing, unless you attach an external keyboard.

And yet, consider the staggering numbers published: 11,000 iPads distributed to staff by United Airlines; 8,000 by Roche; 5,000 by Sears; 4,000 by Verizon; 2,000 by Walt Disney; just to name a few from dozens of examples; and a whopping 32,000 by Korea Telecom. All these companies and many many more are buying iPads by the thousands to distribute to their staff.

According to Forrester, CIOs will spend $10bn on iPads in 2012. A little more than they will actually spend on Macs. And just so you know the figure will actually grow to $ 16 bn by 2013. According to a global survey by IDG Connect, 22% of respondents have deployed tablets in the enterprise and 78% intend to do so by 2013. You do the maths. Also, Apple currently between 60-70% of the tablet market, including the Kindle, and it’s clear that those big numbers for iPad deployment will not be slowing down for a while.

We got some of our clients, partners into a room with some entrepreneurs and experts to pose this question: why? Why are businesses buying what is essentially a consumer device, a toy, in such large numbers? Some of the responses and discussions were illuminating.

“It helps that it’s cool.” – Companies have tried using Laptops before and it hasn’t worked. But giving people iPads and letting them use it personally as well, builds a strong sense of ownership and people look after the device better.

“The business case blindingly obvious for mobile users”. In the sheer amount of information that they no longer have to carry. One of our airline clients mentioned that the fuel savings created by not having to carry manuals with hundreds of pages itself paid for the iPads.

“Cost and Upgrades are key challenges”. The iPad is expensive. And also, Apple does not play by the rulebook when it comes to announcing upgrades, releases, and doesn’t really have an enterprise support environment.

“There is an opportunity for Microsoft” – the good news, or bad news, depending on your religious affiliation when it comes to computing, is Microsoft’s very good showing at the CES. The new Windows 8 interface is seen as a winner and even if they could get a device which has 80% of the iPads power and appeal, the ease of integration of office tools would make it a winner.

“Emotion rules the day” – the amazing thing of course was that every time we asked people about the iPad in the enterprise, people responded first with a personal anecdote. It was their 5 year old son, their 10 month old daughter, their 60 year old father, or themselves, who had been seduced by the iPad. It was a device you could “caress”. If there is a wider lesson here for CIOs, it’s to welcome the arrival of emotion into technology.


iPads: Useful or Just Cool?

Even the late visionary Steve Jobs might have been surprised by the uptake of the iPad in businesses across the world. Consider some of the following data:


Korea Telecom, in a bid to go paperless and leverage their cloud computing systems made their entire work force mobile by distributing 32000 ipads.

SAP AG has decided to deploy 17000 ipads (35% of the global IT workforce) to empower the sales and marketing employees and enable them perform their analyses faster

Sears closed 100 stores in 2011 due to a rough year. It is planning to distribute more than 5000 iPads to track inventory and customer orders and is hoping to turn around with it mobile strategy

American Airlines plans to procure 6000 Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tabs to be given to executive class passengers for in-flight entertainment and pilots to read electronic charts and digital flight manuals. United Airlines to make all its flight cockpits paperless by deploying 11000 ipads.

Dale Potter SVP and CIO, Ottawa Hospitals opines mobile technology is the way of the future in healthcare as 3000 ipads are rolled out. Aptilon’s research indicates 38% of US doctors will own an ipad by the end of 2011

UnitedHealth Group currently deploys 1100 iPads (overall 80000 employees worldwide)

Microstrategy a BI company has deployed 1800 ipads to sales personnel to empower them on the move

Medtronic has purchased 4500 ipads for its 40000 staff

Mercedes Benz Financial plans to deploy ipads to all 355 dealerships in the US after a successful summer trial in 40 dealerships

Restaurants – Bone’s steakhouse in Atlanta and Global Mundo Tapas in Sydney – are replacing paper wine lists and menus with iPad interactive versions. Guests staying in suites in London‘s Berkeley Hotel are loaned iPads pre-loaded with a range of games and videos.

Saturdays Surf makes the most of limited retail space by using LightSpeed software on their tablets, helping it show off more surfboards and get lines moving more quickly by converting the tablet to a POS device

German financial services firm DVAG has already distributed 4000 ipads to its 37000 strong sales team and enables them serve their customers better

JP Morgan Chase has given iPads to its investment banking staff as part of a six month trial enabling workers to access email, contacts, attachments and mark-up and annotate documents and make presentations via the tablets.

Torus, a London-based insurance firm, recently held a paperless board meeting using iPads to replace the 1,600-page packs that it previously printed for its executives.

Lloyds of London has piloted iPads in its underwriting function and is looking to roll out to a broader user group to reduce usage of paper

UBS has confirmed that more than 1,000 staff are taking part in a pilot scheme that allows staff to access company emails, calendars, and contracts using a secure application for the iPhone and iPad.

John Hancock Financial Services wealth management division in the US has issued iPads to more than 200 wholesalers

You would think that the Wintel standard is history, and that Microsoft is all but ready to abdicate its position as the business tool of choice for the world. But of course, Microsoft sells more Windows licenses than all Mac, iOS and Android devices combined.

So what is it about the iPad?

Clearly as these numbers below also show, from enterprise surveys, everybody’s doing it:  

·         22% have formally deployed iPads or other tablets

·         78% plan to have tablets deployed by the end of 2013

·         83% plan to deploy Apple iPads; 34% plan to deploy Android-based tablets


But not everybody knows exactly why:  

·         51% report no clearly articulated strategy for adopting iPads and tablets

·         72% have iPads or other tablets in use today, although they have not been formally deployed

·         41% are used by individuals who have purchased on their own

·         49% say the first iPads used in their companies were purchased by C-level executives


Unsurprisingly, Sales force automation is the most requested enterprise application for tablets, given that these are usually the most sections of the work force.

·         47% see demand for sales force automation applications on tablets

·         84% of users see demand for the app on a tablet


The most interesting thing is that nobody is using the Ipad as a replacement for rival devices. So it’s ANOTHER device to carry & use, in addition to your laptop and smartphone.


·         PC – 6% opine it has totally replaced their PC. 33% say it has partially replaced their PC

·         Smartphone – 2% say it has totally replaced. 43% say tablets have replaced their Smartphone

·         Laptop – 12% say tablets have totally replaced laptop (23% in Europe). 54% say partially replaced. 75% say they carry their laptops around less after getting a tablet.


Across Western Europe, there is a healthy adoption but clearly, there is also an appetite for non-iPad devices, especially if it has the “right features”


·         48% of businesses have evaluated/evaluating tablet deployment 

·         22% of businesses think the tablet is more suitable for their needs vis-à-vis present equipment

·         30% prefer Windows OS based tablets

·         50% – price premium businesses are willing to pay to have a tablet with the right features over current equipment


Of course we know what some of those “right features” are: The iPad doesn’t connect to any other hardware. You can’t physically attach it to a network. It’s cumbersome to print from the iPad, there is no support for USB or SD Card or memory enhancement. There is no support for flash, which is still widely used. It’s hard to implement corporate policies on the device.

And of course, it’s a high profile device and prone to theft and loss. It’s another headache for those overworked IT teams working their way through BYOD models.

And yet, the adoption is growing like wildfire. Is it just the cool factor? Could a more enterprise oriented tablet do better? Are Apple’s competitors missing a trick?

We’ll hope to discuss all this and more in the Mobility Matters event tomorrow at Cognizant, with our clients, partners, entrepreneurs and industry experts. 


(With research from Ajay Anandnarayan)