Firms ignore the iPad at their peril: Gartner

Firms ignore the iPad at their peril: Gartner

Summary: Analyst firm Gartner has issued a sharp warning to chief executives to grab the iPad opportunity now with both hands and discuss the device's "disruptive" capabilities with their chief information officers and other divisions of their organisations.


Analyst firm Gartner has issued a sharp warning to chief executives to grab the iPad opportunity now with both hands and discuss the device's "disruptive" capabilities with their chief information officers and other divisions of their organisations.

According to Gartner, chief executive officers don't normally get involved in specific technology device decisions. But in a research note issued today, the analyst firm said CEOs should make an exception for the iPad.

Key to Gartner's message is the idea that the iPad is not just "the latest consumer gadget", but actually a disruptive force that would redefine markets — as the iPhone did before it.

"Media 'gurus' and forecasters struggled to categorise this device at the time of launch — and some made the mistake of assuming that, like all tablet format devices before it, it would remain a niche product for a limited market," the analyst firm said. Gartner fellow Stephen Prentice recommended that chief executives and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their IT chiefs about the issue if they have not already done so.

In terms of practical measures, the analyst firm recommended that IT departments should provide at least "concierge-level" iPad support for a limited number of key users and prepare a budgeted plan for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011.

"Individuals are willing to buy these devices themselves, so enterprises must be ready to support them," said Prentice. "While some IT departments will say they are a 'Windows shop' and Apple does not support the enterprise, organisations need to recognise that there are soft benefits in a device of this type in the quest to improve recruitment and retention. Technology is not always about productivity."

Beyond just internal support, the analyst firm recommended CEOs actually discuss the iPad with their marketing and product development teams as well. "The iPad has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business models and markets of many enterprises," the company said.

"As use of the iPad grows, examples are emerging in industries and professions including consumer applications (such as a personal stock portfolio review), book and magazine publishing, architects and realtors sharing plans in the field, finance specialists sharing quotations with prospects, and salespeople looking to demonstrate interactive presentations. Interest from the healthcare sector is high, but the inability of the device to withstand sanitisation or operate inside a sealed pouch is a limitation."

"Even if you think it is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the price of delay may well be extremely high," said Prentice.

A large number of Australian organisations are currently conducting corporate trials of the iPad, with the technology simultaneously hitting a variety of sectors.

Education departments around Australia are using the tablet. For example, the University of Adelaide will distribute iPads free of charge to first-year science students in lieu of textbooks. The device has also seen interest from health departments.

In addition, the iPad is seeing strong adoption at the board level in corporations and even in politics. For instance, Westpac chief information officer Bob McKinnon recently revealed that the bank's senior leadership team uses iPads in its meetings to share information. A number of politicians are even using the device in the Federal Parliament.

Topics: Apple, CXO, iPad, IT Priorities

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  • I think that the most useful approach is to architect one's systems and applications to be able to be flexible as to the input and display device.

    The iPad is still a limited market compared to the total communications device market. The real measure to judge whether to target a particular device is to determine what the likely income per cost ratio and whether there is a way of amotising cost over more devices.

    Many tote the Apple apps store as a successful model, but it is really only successful for Apple. 99.9% of apps developed for it will never break even, whereas many of those apps, if developed for all the WAP and HTML devices, would probably make a profit, at the expense of a possibly a little less functionaility. A business may spend $40,000 upwards for a simple app. Better be sure the target number of users is big enough to pay for the bug fixes and version 2!

    Also, mobile apps are most likely to succeed when used to enhance existing revenue streams. Phone voting for reality TV shows is HUGELY profitable, and doesn't require any fancy device capabilities.

    Unfortunately, glamour devices catch an inordinate amount of attention, but may not be the most profitable market, to target on their own, nor the best to design workflows exclusively for.

    Beware of investing in what a person who is willing to spend $1,000 on, without really knowing what they are going to do with it.

    With moble devices, it pays to be concrete in expectations and bet on generic solutions that are flexible in their choice of I/O. Many IT gekes may like an iPad, but many of the same will probably go for an Android device next and who knows what after that. The current phone market should teach us that the mobile device space is volatile on a year to year basis, which is a short time in enterprise design, build and implement timeframes.