The iPad 2 goes on sale today, but why should businesses care? ZDNet Australia talks to four businesses about how they've been using the first generation and what their plans are for the second.
Jason Glasby, general manager IT at Brickworks
Building product manufacturer Brickworks has around 1500 employees, which includes around 1000 computer users.
It has rolled out 50 iPads to its sales team and has the capital expenditure locked in to roll out another 50, but had been waiting for the iPad 2 to be launched. Its plan is to have the sales team fitted out with 200 of the devices.
Glasby said that the team liked to use Salesforce on the iPad, but one of the more useful applications had been Citrix Receiver, which had allowed employees to access the company's core apps — such as a building product specific to enterprise resource planning and roofing sand quality databases — securely, without having to create its own apps to do so.
"We were able to get into our core apps immediately," he said
Brickworks doesn't vet the apps that go onto the iPads of its staff, believing that doing so would "stifle innovation". Instead, Glasby said that the company encourages employees to download whatever they needed to do their job well.
Those using the devices like using Dropbox, Slideshow builder, Skype and Dragon Dictation apps.
The company had gone down the iPad path because it had a fleet of 600 iPhones and had decided that it would be much easier to go with the iPad than another tablet device.
"Going with another tablet would have just added complexity to the environment," he said. "[Apple] devices look and feel all the same."
Paul Rogers, general manager of Consumer Imaging, Fujifilm Australia
Rogers said that the iPad was being used by his 30-strong sales team. They were enjoying the device because they could open it up and do things immediately and they liked the big screen.
His team really enjoys using Salesforce's Chatter. The app, which works like a social network that operates purely for the employees within a business, enabled the sales people to talk to each other more freely, according to Rogers, who said that typing a few quick characters was often easier than writing an email and having to mind their p's and q's.
He gets a morning mail of the chatter discussions and said that team communication "grows everyday".
When asked if he'd look into getting the iPad 2, he said that the company had adjusted its budgeting so that it could churn technology faster.
Those using the device loved it for presenting, he said. They were also fond of the Dropbox and Evernote apps.
Applications are approved by IT before being put onto the iPads via a company iTunes-like store.
Damien Wilson-Brown, Integria state manager, Western Australia
Natural Healthcare specialist Integria bought 25 iPads at the end of last year just prior to rolling out an SAP customer relationship management system for its sales team with the help of Oxygen. It can be accessed as a web app on the iPad.
It was a "completely new system on a completely new device", which has been a big ask for employees, according to Wilson-Brown, especially since they'd not been using smartphones previously either.
To help with change management, he started the team on just creating contacts, which saw 2000 contacts created in one month. The next step will be appointment creation, then interaction logs and tasks, leads and opportunities, then, lastly, creating business plans and activity schedules.
Some of the team like how the CRM works better on the desktop, due to issues with how the app operates on the iPad, which loads some pages slowly.
He said that he was aware of the dual-core processor in the iPad 2. "It sounds like it would definitely improve the performance with CRM."
The team also uses the device for daily sales reports and dashboards, as well as a web ordering app that the company created itself.
The web ordering can be done instantly with the customer, instead of filling out a form on paper and taking it back to the office to be entered into the system.
Exchange mail was working like a dream for the team too, according to Wilson-Brown.
"It's useful for them because they don't have to go home and do a couple of hours of administration at the end of the day," he said.
Apps Wilson-Brown liked were Dropbox, GoodReader, iFiles and LogMeIn Ignition.
He also had Oz Weather put on the devices. "That was a way of getting [staff] to switch it on and check it out," he said.
Andrew Tighe, owner of Tiger IT Solutions
Tighe owns his own IT services company and doesn't yet have an iPad. He's ordered an iPad 2, however, and is hoping the wait isn't too long.
When he gets his iPad, he's hoping to use LogMeIn Ignition to help with his business (which he already uses on his iPhone) using the iPad to bridge the time gap between being on one site and another, and to help support customers when he doesn't have a laptop with him on the weekend.
It would help him be a "one man army", according to Tighe.