How are you using iPad for business?

How are you using iPad for business?

Summary: How are iPads and other tablets being used in Corporate America? And what can't they do yet? Ted Schadler takes a look at the iPad as an empowering technology.


We are getting many requests for help on iPad strategies for the enterprise. It's clear why. iPads are a tremendously empowering technology that any employee can buy. My colleague Andy Jaquith has a report coming real soon now on the security aspects of iPhones and iPads, and I'm launching research on case studies of iPad in the enterprise.

I am currently hearing about three business scenarios for iPad and tablets, but I'd love hear of your experiences, plans, concerns, or frustrations. Ping me at tschadler(at)forrester(dot)com. Here are the three scenarios:

  1. Sales people out in the field. This is the "Hollywood pitch deck" scenario. The iPad, particularly with a cover that can prop it up a bit, is a great way to scroll through slides to show a customer or demonstrate a Web site. In one situation, I heard that there's a competition brewing for who can manipulate the Web site upside down (so the client across the table sees it right side up) without making any mistakes. Now there's a new skill for sales: upside down Web browsing.
  2. Executives on an overnight trip. No, iPad doesn't replace a laptop (at least not yet; more on this below). But it's great for email, calendar, reviewing documents, and presenting PDF or Keynote decks.
  3. Warehouse managers, retail floor staff, medical staff, and anybody else that needs real access to apps while on their feet. iPad's form factor, battery life, mobile Internet access, panoply of applications, and touchscreen abilities make it a great device for these typically frustrated and under-served employees. Why retail floor staff? Because then a customer can be served with a custom order while they're looking at the too-small-but-way-cool sweater on the rack.

So what can't iPad (yet) do? Here are my top three requests:

  1. Full Microsoft Office support. Microsoft's missing a huge opportunity to build apps that can create and edit common documents. Tablets are going to be huge, but Microsoft's Office business will have to device-agnostic to avoid getting displaced on it. Today, I have to use Keynote to make a presentation. But I'd rather use PowerPoint. The Office Web Apps products could solve this problem fairly easily. Until we get that, iPad will never replace a laptop.
  2. Mouse support. For pete's sake, I can use a bluetooth keyboard, why can't I use a bluetooth mouse? That would make it a full authoring tool. Until we get that, people will suffer finger contortions and stiff necks reaching over their keyboard to touch the screen.
  3. More and better business apps. This is mostly a matter of waiting for the market to build great iPad apps. We have some great ones already: Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Email, and I'm sure a whole lot more that you'll tell me about. But until we get access to corporate applications, employees will still have to log around their laptops.

I'm working on a report for the Fall on using tablets for business, and I'll be presenting on this empowering technology at our Content & Collaboration Forum in October, so please let me know what you're interested in learning.

Alos, please let me know how you are using iPad for business. What features do you want? What other tablets are you excited about?

Topics: iPad, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets, Wi-Fi

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  • We're not. There's no use for it

    so its not something we even focused or considered focusing on.
    John Zern
    • Agree.. is a useless product

      @John Zern Not using no intend on using. Android is a diff story.
    • RE: How are you using iPad for business?

      @John Zern

      As we know, the world revolves around John and his place of work, thanks for sharing. The iPad is now doomed for business.
      • What do you mean "now" doomed?


        It was doomed when they only put 256Mb of RAM in the thing, left out USB, SD and Flash.
  • Just hand your all data to Pingguo and...

    ...President Hu, when you do the $106 swap, after the original battery kaffs out? C'mon. Think about it.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • No plans for using iPad here

  • I do have to wonder about mouse support though

    Why would you want to use a mouse with the iPad? The OS wasn't designed with a mouse in mind.

    Besides, using a mouse makes the iPad less portable. Why don't you carry a replaceable battery and memory sticks while you are at it?

    Please make sure that in the future, you stick to using Apple's products in the way that Jobs wants you to use them. Otherwise, he'll take them back.
  • RE: How are you using iPad for business?

    [i]We are getting many requests for help on iPad strategies for the enterprise.[/i]

    If they need help for iPad strategies then maybe they should reevaluate their needs to see if they even need the iPad in their organization. Sounds more like having it just to have it.
    Loverock Davidson
  • We're Not...Why would we?

    It's a toy. We work.
  • is a great way to scroll through slides to show a customer or demonstrate a

    Because nothing says impressive like a 9.7" screen with seven people crowded around it.
  • RE: How are you using iPad for business?

    Why would you introduce into an Enterprise a device with a crippling tie to iTunes? That's lunacy.
  • Seems like you were expecting a level of maturity....

    in the comments but instead you've got the usual suspects, with the same anti-Apple drivel. <br><br>There's lots of new possibilities with the iPad (and other like devices that will pop up in the future). I like the retail idea. I could see large department stores letting their staff carry these around as point-of-sale devices. Able to quickly look up inventory, process credit cards etc. There will be no more need for long lines ever again. Plus it feels more personal this way. Apple does this in their Apple Stores now.
    • Definintely...

      @dave95. Oh, for sure...because, if there's one thing you want to do more than anything, its handing out $900 ipads to Walmart employees to collect credit-card information.
      • RE: How are you using iPad for business?


        Are you not a little bit ashamed by your comment spamming, and constant misinformation? $900?
      • @dave95: Interesting question!

        Are [b]you[/b] not a little bit ashamed by your comment spamming and constant misinformation?
    • LOL..."point of sale" devices


      Yeah, I'm sure that would be just up T.J. Maxx's alley
  • Many uses

    It's brilliant as a coffee tray and replaces a mirror when used outside.

    It's also useful for spreading disease, as the grubby thing gets handed around a lot.

    Fantastic for watching videos and iTunes while I'm supposed to be working. Unfortunately the ciompany refused to replace its entire professional infrastructure, so it could be used for anything else.

    Also great in quick demos as you can cover any disturbing facts with your hand, which of course is almost glued to the screen.

    For the financial sector it provides a smooth surface for white powder. No scratches from razor blades either!

    In the marine sector, it's replacing macbooks as boat anchors.

    In housing, it's a great roof tile replacement, that will make your house look cool and change roofing colours in a blink.

    What will Apple think of next? I thought they'd hit the high point with $30 band-aids, but I'm sure there's more to come ;-)
    • Oh my, well done sir!!!

      You had me at [i]useful for spreading disease[/i]!!! :)
  • Some real world feedback ..

    Having gone through an extensive iPad evaluation of both WiFi and 3G models some sticking points we ran across.

    - Zero security. Our forensic team hacked the iPad in less then a minute. Even with remote wipe via Exchange, password enforcement it's still easy to circumvent with off the shelf linux tools. So we explored using the device as a "Cloud" only no stored data and Citrix usage was decent, but that's not free and an additional expense on an already expensive device. Considering state of NV, MA have regulations around consumer data protection you really need to consider what this would be used for and weigh your acceptable risks. It's worse if you have other regulatory requirements. I fail to see how any hospital would allow this consider the scope of HIPPA.

    - iTunes still required. Needed for activation, Sync and Upgrades. I don't know any corporation that is eager to take on supporting iTunes and Apple's ecosystem.

    - AppStore. No way to control which Applications users can purchase or any means to manage App purchases. No asset management of Apps. Who is going to track how many copies of any business appropiate App? Who decices which Apps can be used or not?

    3G Accounts. Another challenge. Each account requires a credit card and seperate email address. There is presently no carrier billing so anything your telco currently has setup cannot be leveraged to manage this ongoing expense (or track usage).

    For now we will not be purchasing iPads for deployment. Those that wish to use one pay all expenses and are limited to web based email and applications.
    • RE: How are you using iPad for business?