This iPad phenomenon—is it real? I mean, sure, consumers love it and Apple will sell them tens of millions, but is this little tablet really something CIOs should be evaluating? Is the iPad -- not to mention the dozens of new competitors that will be introduced in the next several months -- a serious business tool or just an annoying status symbol for high-level execs?
A lot of readers are still asking those questions – and for those still in the skeptics camp, I think time is running out on them. Quickly. And that's going to become a very bad career dynamic in a very short time. And here's why:
A flood of applications.
By the end of this year, there will be thousands of enterprise-level apps for the iPad that are not just dumbed-down versions of traditional enterprise apps. Many of them will enable the iPad to do things that no other device can do as quickly, as attractively, as productively, and as simply.
(For extensive analyses of the iPad's impact on the enterprise, please check out the "Recommended Reading" list at the end of this column.)
CIOs who think the Apple iPad is little more than a stranger in a strange land and will never blend into their Windows-centric environments might want to note that Citrix reports that its iPad app that offers full access to Windows desktops has been downloaded more than 700,000 times.
In more tangible terms, here's how that translates to innovation in the IT-rich world of healthcare, according to an ITworld.com article: "Since Citrix virtual desktop solutions don't store data on a device, they make an ideal option for accessing secure data (as well as Windows applications) from mobile devices. In fact, Citrix has been a major factor in the iPad's rapid adoption in healthcare."
The iPad was even highlighted by Citrix CEO Mark Templeton during a recent earnings call as he described how Citrix is ratcheting up its efforts to provide the software tools that will help weave the oncoming surge of mobile devices into diverse corporate IT environments:
"In addition, our growth plan includes even richer collaboration experiences, partner app integrations, and expanded mobile device support including GoToMyPC for the iPad," Templeton said.
Salesforce.com's popular new enterprise-level social collaboration tool, called Chatter, has also become an iPad phenomenon, says Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff:
From a New York Times article: "The software maker Salesforce.com said its Chatter iPad app, which lets users gain access to data from corporate software programs, had been downloaded more than a million times. Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, said Chatter was being used in more than 60,000 businesses.
"Of course, I still have a PC," Mr. Benioff said. "But I am using it less and less and I am using my iPad more." He called 2011 "the year of the tablet" and added: "If you call me next year, I will say it is also the year of the tablet. And if you call me in 2013, I'll tell you it's going to be the year of the tablet."
Those two examples should not be mistaken for aberrations, say two big IT industry research firms; rather, they exemplify the absolutely phenomenal growth that's expected in the mobile-app space. Check out these numbers from a recent post on seekingalpha.com:
"As I mentioned in a recent column, the global app market topped $2 billion last year. Astonishingly, Gartner, Inc. expects the market to generate $15.1 billion in revenue in 2011… $27 billion by 2013… and north of $35 billion by 2014, according to International Data Corporation."
One more perspective, this one from an International Business Times article about how a noted IT analyst believes the iPad is pushing some CIOs to consider new IT purchasing models:
"We continue to view Apple as the clear beneficiary in our sector of paradigm shift in computing toward mobile devices with the iPad and the iPhone. We believe consumers are increasingly buying more laptops, tablets and handheld devices and 'logging in' to apps and corporate networks," said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital.
Reitzes said this trend should mean that the key to corporate success over the long term is being strong in consumer devices that you use everyday. As a result, the purchase pattern is shifting toward laptops, tablets and smart phones being bought by consumers (all key areas of Apple’s strength), while direct sales of corporate products have shorter and smaller upgrade cycles. (End of excerpt.)
At a time when all businesses are looking to make employees more productive and aware of corporate priorities, and when speed of analysis and execution is becoming increasingly vital, CIOs need to get out in front of this application wave that will sweep the Pad and probably some of its competitors into the heart of the enterprise.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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