Bausch + Lomb CIO Alan Farnsworth has a simple formula for keeping IT relevant in a big enterprise: Find cool toys and bring them to workers. These days that mission requires a heavy dose of Apple gear.
Bausch + Lomb was one of the corporate world's earliest adopters of the iPad. Just days after the iPad launched, Bausch + Lomb was handing them to sales people in the field to experiment. Next came the apps to highlight new products and demo eye care products. Bausch + Lomb was so early to the game that it has a rolling upgrade cycle today as 1,700 iPads are deployed. The workers closest to the customer get iPad 2 devices as the previous versions are given to other employees downstream. Bausch + Lomb is now running iPad pilots on the manufacturing floor.
Bausch + Lomb’s iOS apps are pushed to workers via custom tools built on HTML5 with jQueryMobile.
This corporate example illustrates how Apple products are penetrating the enterprise. First, the iPhone was supported by the IT department---sometimes reluctantly. The iPhone paved the way for execs to quickly give the iPad a spin. Now Macs are entering the fray.
For Farnsworth, the move to more Apple products is part of an overall mission to give workers what they want. Bausch + Lomb rolled out Salesforce.com's Chatter across the company and is looking at Workday to replace its aging PeopleSoft HR system. The aim is to make it easier to get data to the field.
"It's about mobile BI (business intelligence)," he said. "At our company the front line sales people are most important so we want to get them paperless sales training via the iPad as well as demos."
"If you let people communicate at work like they do at home they will be more productive," added Farnsworth. "We had iPhones before iPads and we ramped up with Apple once we started using the iPad. Now we have Mac pilots underway."
Given Bausch + Lomb is increasingly becoming cloud and Web-based the device on the other end can be chosen by the worker. Bausch + Lomb has relatively updated ERP systems that dish out data to the field via Web-based tools.
Farnsworth noted that Bausch + Lomb is also a Dell shop. Workers can choose a Mac or PC based on preference. "some workers try a Mac and have to learn a lot after 20 years on a PC. Some go back to the PC quickly," said Farnsworth. "But graphic intensive areas like engineering are going to Macs more. I expect the incoming generation of workers will want to stay in the Apple world."
Meanwhile, the move to Apple along with Salesforce.com's Chatter has given the IT department an increased profile. "It has helped from an internal marketing standpoint," he said.
Will this consumerization friendly approach lead to more Android in Bausch + Lomb? "We don't have any Android tablets in the company, but we support Android phones in Japan," he said. "Today there just hasn't been the demand for them."
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