With iPad pilots or deployments taking place in 65% of the Fortune 100 and the iPhone now mainstream at more than 80% of the Fortune 500, Apple is obliterating the distinctions between consumer and professional devices and forcing CIOs to confront a simple question: are you willing to help embrace and drive this revolution in IT philosophy, or will you fight it?
Yes, Apple says it remains and will always remain focused on the consumer, and there's no reason to question that position. What's different now is that Apple's focus on creating great technology experiences for the individual no longer disqualifies those devices from becoming full-blown business tools that not only pass but also exceed every conceivable IT-department sniff test and requirement.
Look at those numbers again: within the Fortune 100, two-thirds are now testing or deploying iPads—yet the device is barely half a year old! Is there something powerful going on here, or have the CIOs and CEOs at 65 of the largest companies in the world spontaneously and simultaneously gone stark raving mad?
And then there's the iPhone: in the company's earnings call with analysts this week, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that since the launch of the iPhone 4 several months ago, the iPhone's penetration among the Fortune 500 (as opposed to the Fortune 100 sample for the iPad example above) has surged from 60% to more than 80%.
Again, maybe all those companies and their top executives drank tainted water from the same well at the same time and have all gone off the deep end. But it's a whole darned lot more likely that they have embraced these traditional-IT outsiders because they help employees engage more effectively with customers and with each other and significantly increase the likelihood of increasing revenue for those companies by getting better information more quickly into the hands of decision-makers.
What CIO in his or her right mind is going to fight that?
(For an inside look at how Mercedes Benz Financial is using the iPad and the lessons it has learned along the way, check out my colleague Chris Murphy's column, Global CIO: 7 Tips For Using The iPad In Business.)
Even more striking is Apple's own commentary about its enterprise success. From a company that has traditionally regarded IT organizations and business customers as something between mildly offensive and totally untouchable, Apple's remarks about CIO uptake of the iPad and iPhone are further signs of the extraordinary changes Apple is driving in the world of business technology.
From Steve Jobs, who atypically participated in the call because, he said, he just couldn't resist chatting about the company's first $20-billion quarter (boldface emphasis added):