ÜberTech


iPads In The Enterprise Aren't Overhyped. They're Properly Hyped.

iPads In The Enterprise Aren't Overhyped. They're Properly Hyped.

Summary: The iPad is like LeBron James before he won his first NBA championship - wildly successful but still beset by doubters. I think that's fair.

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Bill Simmons, aka the Sports Guy on ESPN/Grantland, is probably my favorite writer on the planet. In the last decade, I've read more words by him than anyone besides myself.

There are several reasons for this. His stuff mostly appears on the Web. Like every guy I know, I stopped reading actual books around the time DSL replaced AOL. Simmons also writes incredibly long. His trademark mailbag columns, where he answers his readers' off-kilter questions, are 10,000 words of Jack Kerouac-style-stream-of-consciousness - if Kerouac had a MacBook and grew up obsessed with 80s movies and the Red Sox.

Finally, Simmons has a gift for spinning fantastical theories that make total sense despite not being grounded in anything resembling scientific rigor, like his 16 Levels of Losing (rating the psychic pain of fans depending on the scenario) or The (Patrick) Ewing Theory (teams play better after losing a superstar).

One Simmons-ism that I find particularly applicable to tech is his notion of something being, not over-hyped, not under-hyped, but properly-hyped. It's like the Gartner Hype Cycle, but applied to jocks, as they go from overhyped college star to underhyped, struggling young pro to properly-hyped veteran.

Take Lebron James. When he was a high school freshman with a bodybuilder's physique, he was already overhyped. The hype only grew when James skipped college and instantly became an NBA star. By year 4, though, James began taking heat, from nitpickers who latched onto his (occasionally) poor dribbling and (relatively) weak 3-point shooting, to critics who pointed out his inability to win an NBA championship.

When he messily switched teams, gave up his Alpha Dog status to teammate Dwyane Wade, and still failed to win a championship in his first year, the naysayers seized on every opportunity to call him a choke artist, a waste of talent, a loser. By the end of that season, James was stupendously under-hyped.

Then what happened? Not only did James win the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the third time, but he finally carried a team to the championship this past June. That's the sort of season that anyone not surnamed Bird, Jordan or Bryant can only dream about. But it's a requirement for a player with the nickname King James to live up to his billing, answer his critics, and, finally, reach the state where his achievements match the hype.

shutterstock_71681680

Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com

The iPad is the LeBron James of tech. Like LeBron, it is incredibly successful (85 million sold in 2.5 years, 70% of the tablet market) and incredibly hyped.

Only in one area could you argue that the iPad is underhyped, and that is in the enterprise. There's no shortage of critics charging that the iPad is incapable of 'real' business work, that it's not manageable and insecure, and that it will be dead meat once Windows 8/RT comes out.

For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, "they don't have a clue what to do with them."

In other organizations, the iPad has simply failed to make a dent. In the City of Minneapolis, an attempt to encourage iPad deployments and BYOD usage resulted in just 170 of its 3,600 workers using them, according to a recent article in CIO magazine headlined, "Is the iPad Over-Hyped in the Enterprise?"

Still other organizations like Seton Hall University are consciously eschewing the iPad in favor of Windows 8 tablets.

Personally, I think it's great that stories like these are emerging and being aired publicly. No CIO would expect a unplanned ad hoc deployment to succeed. Why should iPads be any different? And if you combine super-strict BYOD policies along with super-tight budgets, as happened in Minneapolis, would you expect many workers and managers to bring/deploy iPads?

Not the Holy Grail

The critics are right: there are many things that the iPad isn't. It isn't the Holy Grail of mobility. It isn't the Jesus Tablet. It's not even a 100% laptop replacement.

But the facts are this: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are rolling out or testing iPads, according to Apple. Thousands more have deployed them. And some of these deployments are massive: 32,000 by Korea Telecom, 26,000 by the San Diego Unified School District, 18,000 by the United States Air Force, 11,000 by United Airlines, etc.

For many companies, the iPad is proving to be a useful business tool that is as easy to manage as Windows PCs and secure enough for top-tier banks. In others, it is a wedge for the next generation of technology to make its way into enterprises. It is an enabler for many companies to overcome the inertia of naysayers to experiment with scenarios where tablets can make add plenty of value (like field service, like sales, like meetings, like healthcare, like HR and general worker productivity). And it is helping companies earn real ROI today.

It's not only possible to reconcile these opposing views and facts, but desirable that we do so. To ignore one or the other would be to over-hype or under-play the iPad. To properly hype/assess the iPad, we need to match expectations with reality, link hype to actual impact.

Want to see some more examples of companies improving their operations using apps and tablets like the iPad? Check out the infographic below created by the SAP Mobile team, which references companies like Vodafone, CSC, Asian Paints, Charite Berlin hospital, Verizon Wireless and Standard Bank of South Africa:

5 companies mobile infographic 1

Topics: ÜberTech, CXO, iPad, Mobility, Enterprise 2.0, Windows

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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Talkback

46 comments
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  • Unbelievably great and unbiased article. Overhyped or under hyped? Grin.

    Actually, Eric, I found your article one of the best published on ZDNet this year. Well done.
    kenosha77a
  • iPad is over-hyped

    "The iPad is the LeBron James of tech"

    I knew the "iPad isn't over-hyped" headline would need to be followed by a pretty creative and convoluted diatribe, but seriously?

    "For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers"

    Yes. Indeed.

    "For many companies, the iPad is proving to be a useful business tool"

    No, not really. You conveniently forgot to give us examples.

    "Want to see some more examples of companies improving their operations using apps and tablets like the iPad? See the infographic..."

    You do realise that your "infographic" is about mobile, not just iPad, right?

    This article about iPad hype is its self a classic example of iPad hype. Pure hype with no substance. Yet another all-too-easy article guaranteed to attract a few exra clicks just for having "iPad" in the headline.

    Tablets in general are over-hyped. Add the Apple hype bandwagon effect to that, and it's easy to see why the iPad is so over-hyped. This "tablets in the enterprise" notion is an aspirational phenomenon which does not really exist.
    Tim Acheson
    • I can give an example...

      My wife and I own a Behavioral Consulting Firm with 14 psychology clinicians that work with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities in the field. We recently bought our employees iPads and they absolutely love them. They are very engaging to the clients we serve, which helps our clinicians break through emotional and physical barriers. Granted, we are not an Enterprise, just a small business. But the iPad has transformed our business in ways I previously never imagined.

      I might add, my wife is on the Board of Directors for our State's Psychology Association Committee. The last meeting had over 200 people there and 90% had iPads in their hands. My wife was quite amazed at the amount she saw there. So much so, she texted me from the meeting to tell me.

      Since I am well associated with other business owners in the community, I can give even more examples where the iPad has made major progress in deployment to businesses.

      Obviously, the iPad is making inroads in certain sectors of the business community. Maybe not Enterprises, but small businesses are eating them up.

      It would be nice in the future if you could not make such sweeping judgment calls unless you are better informed.
      roadrash1964
      • Facts?

        Facts? Roadrash, you want a known troll to actually use FACTS?
        THavoc
    • Since when a troll will write something positive

      Since when have you written anything positive about Apple.

      I had read your posts and nothing is positive about Apple.

      Anywhere I don't expect a troll like you to write something that is balanced.

      Anyway Eric a great piece.
      AdanC
    • One-click pony

      Did you really not follow the links? There are dozens of examples.
      Robert Hahn
    • One of my clients uses it as a reference tool

      Instead of having to carry laptops to do the job, they use iPads. Instant on, complete with other tools like email, web, etc. It's really useful for them.

      I too have all my techy books on one. Much easier to work with.
      IAmMarty
    • iPad Over-Hyped

      Is the iPad being "Over-Hyped" the short answer is: NO. The problem is training, or should I say the lack of training. A great example back when I was in the US Air Force in the 1970's when my office went from electric typewriters to desktop computers. The IT guy brought the 2 computers, 2 printers and manuals and told us we had 5 weeks to lean how to use them. None of us had ever turned a computer on let a lone run one. One of my people had a Commodore 64 game machine at home so he was appointed my sections "IT" person. After 5 weeks we still did not have a clue how to run the computers. The units IT and and Operations Officer came in and took away the typewriters and said learn quick. I think that is what is was is happening with the iPad. The training is just not there. Even if initial training is given with such a radical change over followup training on the job site is required.
      Michael852
  • iPads In The Enterprise Aren't Overhyped. They're Properly Hyped.

    They are still overhyped. The whole plan of trying to find a use for them is dooming them. As you rightly pointed out companies are returning them as they don't have a use. Just say what is really happening with iPads, people are carrying them around just to have one and not because they fill a need. Tablets work in very few situations, the consumer situation isn't really one of them.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • You missed this

      Once again, you've stopped reading part way thru the article. Let me fill you in:

      But the facts are this: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are rolling out or testing iPads, according to Apple. Thousands more have deployed them. And some of these deployments are massive: 32,000 by Korea Telecom, 26,000 by the San Diego Unified School District, 18,000 by the United States Air Force, 11,000 by United Airlines, etc.
      THavoc
      • let me fill you in

        "For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, "they don't have a clue what to do with them.""

        That kinda says it all. 94% is extremely high number so I don't believe that statistic. Also, its just testing meaning they may not find a use for them at all.
        Loverock Davidson-
        • Let me fill you in

          "For sure, some companies stumble when they blindly jump onto the iPad bandwagon. Like the enterprise that returned 40% of the 14,000 iPads earmarked for its managers because, according to a Gartner analyst, "they don't have a clue what to do with them.""

          That kinda says it all. 40% is extremely high number so I don't believe that statistic.

          See what I did there? :) Just because YOU don't believe the 94% number doesn't make it any less true. We know you can't admit there's an alternative to Microsoft out there.
          THavoc
          • Microsoft

            Article didn't mention Microsoft.
            Loverock Davidson-
          • MS

            That's the best you can come back with? It didn't mention Microsoft? lol
            THavoc
          • Getting lamer by the year!

            Grow a pair maybe you'll find a different life, where you're not ridiculously wrong all the time.
            GoPower
          • One pound, two shillings

            You don't have to mention Microsoft. We know who you are, and why you are here. Your job is is spew Munchkin poop on anything that might harm the interests of the Microsoft Corporation.
            Robert Hahn
          • Interesting coming from you

            You don't have to mention Apple (though you always do). We know who you are, and why you are here. Your job is is spew Munchkin poop on anything that might harm the interests of the Apple Corporation.

            Too funny.
            toddbottom3
          • But not where they eat

            Eric Lai has been so kind as to turn his column over to the IT Director at Seton Hall, who as you recall decided to standardize on Windows 8. Eric had criticized that decision, and in this new column gives the IT Director a platform from which to defend his decision.

            You know what? In spite of the obvious pro-Microsoft bias inherent in such an article, there are no alleged Apple shills dropping 'poop' in the thread. It continues to be a mystery (to you, but not to me) why Munchkin poop only appears when an article fails to properly take Apple to task for being evil. It's almost as if Microsoft were the only company sending shills into the forums to poop on its competitors.
            Robert Hahn
      • Tablets!

        To play Devil's Advocate:
        The problem with throwing out a number like 94% is that while it may be accurate, it may not be totally accurate. You can easily add the phrase "that do business with Apple" and change the entire meaning of the statement. If 100 companies do business with Apple, and 94% are deploying iPads, that doesn't mean 94% of all Fortune 500 companies do it.

        I will say that my company does use Tablets, but only for out Sales people. General IT doesn't use them because they lack the full functionality for them to do everything.

        iPads, and Tablets in general, are not the end all/be all mobile device. Laptops are still, funtionally, better. If you only need to peform some word processing functions, cloud access, email access, or showing off pictures and whatnot; Tablets are fine. For everyone else that isn't a "metoo" follower; Laptops are the way to go.
        sdyoung78
        • It didn't say anything about fitting every job

          Nobody ever stated that if a company is deploying tablets (no matter the brand) that they were deploying them to every employee. They are a GREAT fit for some positions but also a piss poor fit for others.
          non-biased