iPads in the Office: What Are They Really Good For?

April 30th, 2012

There are lots of business apps available for the iPad. And tablets are finding roles as point-of-sale terminals in retail stores and restaurants. But have tablets really earned their place in office cubicles and other work environments? And if so, what exactly are workers doing with them?

Companies are buying them – or plan to. The Clark County, Nevada school system spent more than $1 million over six months on more than 1,800 iPads for facualty, administrators and students. The Financial Times spent more than $1 million over six months buying nearly 2,000 subsidized iPads for its entire staff.

But why are they buying, and what are they hoping to get for their money?

In the case of the Financial Times, it looks like they were fishing for style. Their CEO acknowledged that the subsidy was essentially a bonus – a “recognition of your contribution to our strong performance this year.” For most businesses, the primary benefit appears to be portability, which explains the tablet’s appeal to education, sales and other mobile-minded groups. An Accenture report claims that mobility is indeed, king. “Arguably, [the tablet’s killer app in the enterprise] is the tablet itself enabling instant access to thousands of Web-enabled apps. ”  It’s an excellent point. Mobile access to enterprise data is what made the smartphone market, and tablets have several key advantages in those areas. And there are dedicated tablet apps from folks as well-heeled as SAP. But business apps that couldn’t exist on anything but a tablet? Those are harder to find.

The Forrester report summed up the current state of the enterprise tablet:

Users want to accomplish work primarily through their PCs – where they can consume, collaborate, and create. But they also recognize that during certain times, in certain locations, or when mobile they prefer to use nonstandard form factors, including tablets – where they can consume and collaborate, but not create.

The real opportunity, though, is to create business applications that work better on a tablet than on other platforms.

By Cormac Foster, RWW  For full details, please click here