iPads in the Enterprise – Game Changer or Distraction?

Marc Andonian, Louis Boyle, Irving Tyler/Vice Presidents, Executive Partners

Recent discussions with over 100 CIOs indicate that organizations are finding innovative ways to use Apple’s iPad to increase personal, professional and organizational productivity. CIO and business-sponsored projects are delivering positive impact by driving revenue, reducing expense and improving customer service. CIOs are exploiting opportunities, assessing risks and driving the required policy changes that safely incorporate the influences of consumerization in the workplace.
Gartner Executive Programs held two CIO sessions at Symposium/ITxpo 2010 in Orlando to explore and discuss personal, professional and organizational interest and activities regarding the use of iPads. The sessions were attended by 104 CIOs and other senior IT executives, and more than 50% of them had iPads in their hands. Thirty-three percent of the group indicated they are actively pursuing iPad-related projects (60% IT-led, 40% business-led). CIOs were asked to share their ideas for using iPads (now and in the future) and how the devices are currently delivering value to their organizations.

Group discussion revealed an enthusiastic and cautious optimism for the iPad as a way to drive productivity and value at many levels of the organization. CIOs indicated that they and their executive peers are using the devices for e-mail and Web access as a more productive alternative to smartphones and laptops. Key factors for improving productivity were instant-on, lightweight tablet, larger screens, better document viewing and integrated connectivity.

CIOs are also finding ways to access corporate applications (e.g., via Citrix or VMWare), running i-Series/AS 400 apps via 5250 terminal emulation, and writing applications that drive customer-service-related activities. One CIO commented, “The use of virtualization and emulation technology is allowing me to deliver value by extending current applications on new devices without significant new investment.”

Examples of current iPad usage include the following:
• A pharma company equips its sales force with iPads to do e-detailing of physicians about their products. The CIO said that the interactive nature of the iPad has resulted in longer and more meaningful discussions with physicians.
• An electrical utility developed a native iPad app to allow customers to voluntarily “opt off” the grid during peak use periods and get paid for it. Another utility uses the device to facilitate utility pole installation tracking by e-mailing forms data directly to the ERP system. The company’s CIO said they now see improved productivity, with jobs completed faster, when it previously took three to five days for the manual processes to get data into the company’s systems.
• A casino company uses iPads to support customer service and device repair on the casino floor, increasing revenue generation through improved customer intimacy and satisfaction, and by keeping the most profitable machines in working order.
• A food manufacturer/distributor profiles store- and market-specific sales data for the buying managers of retail stores carrying its products, and was able to increase product sales and seasonal promotion updates.
• A university uses iPads as e-readers and an access point to Web-based e-mail and Google apps, and as an alternative laptop – hoping to reduce costs and improve information accessibility and use by students.
• A college is adding a magnet school, grades 6 – 12, to its campus and will be giving each student an iPad as a textbook e-reader and access point and note-taking device, providing a more consistent, interactive and effective learning environment.

Each of the above examples is about driving customer-facing functionality or improving operational efficiency or reduced expenses, in addition to providing a more convenient way to access e-mail and the Web.

CIOs were acutely aware of potential security risks, lack of enterprise-class management tools, the “fragility” of the consumer technology, and the fact that iPads and other tablets are early in the Hype Cycle. But they also believe that the potential to differentiate their organizations, products or businesses is worth careful exploration.

There was consensus that the opportunity was high, the investment point was low, and the learning value was sufficient to offset potential security or technology risks or concerns about early adoption and product/technology lock-in. These groups of self-selected CIOs were enthusiastic but cautious, as the technology and its potential are still in early stages.

Key features underlying the interest and use of this new platform include: instant-on access to e-mail and the Web vs. two to three minutes for a notebook; lightweight quality display with touch interface, driving easy and interactive use; the ability to leverage existing applications with virtual technology, extending current investments; and a robust, consumer-friendly platform for new application development and deployment. One CIO said, “The iPad has opened the door to a new way of thinking about applications, their deployment and use.” The iPad itself may not be the final solution, but it is setting a direction CIOs should be actively considering.

Three underlying characteristics of iPad use really stood out:
• The potential for significant productivity gains
• Fast, agile turnaround in creating business value
• Success in working around the security and manageability limitations

• CIOs should not ignore the iPad and the potential benefits this disruptive technology can bring to organizations of all kinds.
• CIOs should focus on both client-facing and internal opportunities to exploit the iPad, as well as forthcoming derivative tablets (e.g., RIM Playbook, Samsung Galaxy, Dell Streak) based on other operating systems (e.g., Android) and new mobile device formats – as part of a managed device diversity program.
• The convergence of an inexpensive consumer-based device format, with instant-on, high-resolution screens, touch-based interfaces, WiFi and 3G internet connectivity, and high battery life presents a unique opportunity to explore and exploit new approaches to mobile devices, application functionality and media delivery.
• CIOs should not underestimate the “cool factor” for people associated with these devices, to enhance relationships with executives and even boards.
• CIOs should use this opportunity to rethink implications for security, information protection, and enterprise deployment and management of consumer technology (since this will be required for other external “entities” such as customers, partners, contractors, etc.), while anticipating that the iPad is a leading indicator of a new technology direction for employer- and employee-owned devices.

Bottom Line
The iPad is delivering real value at personal, professional, organizational and executive levels, and is a leading indicator of future end-user device approaches. CIOs should invest part of their personal and organizational R&D budget in this and related disruptive technologies as part of their innovation program. Leading CIOs are actively investing in and pioneering creative ways to leverage this technology and bring real business value, often in a client-facing manner.

Business Impact:
The iPad presents CIOs with an opportunity to rethink how they bring innovation to their organizations to drive market opportunities, while improving efficiencies and effectiveness. Early indications from CIOs show there are many ways to leverage this disruptive technology in client-facing applications that directly drive an organization’s financial levers – increasing revenue, reducing expenses and building customer intimacy.

Additional Insights:
Summary Notes Symposium 2010 EXP Session on iPads
“CEO Advisory: Seize the iPad Opportunity Now”
“iPads: Not Notebook Replacements, but Still Useful for Business”
“Use Managed Diversity to Support Endpoint Devices”

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