Recently, I had an interesting discussion with a handful of global CIOs from Korea, Japan, Germany, India, USA and a few others. It centered on the pains, acceptance and way forward on the much flashed about computing device — across all seminars, airports, lobbies and any other place that you want to be seen with it. It has created a range of wannabe devices, been written about by every type of media, physical, internet, business magazines, newspapers, leisure, technology … Sigh, you get the point? I am referring to the Apple iPad.
The iPad has taken the IT world by surprise. It started off as a consumer device, and stormed into the corporate world — taking the CIOs literally on the wrong foot, just as they were getting comfortable with the iPhone. A CIO recounted the story of his team being given the task to connect a new shiny device to the corporate network; when no one had ever seen such a contraption. While the IT team was able to get it onto the corporate network within the stipulated 30 minutes (an unreasonable demand from the Chairman’s son), others have not been so fortunate, and have later discovered employees happily connecting to the WiFi network.
Driven from the top, the iPad has infiltrated every organization, giving a hard time to many CIOs. Sales and marketing organizations are creating business cases for deployment, while the evolving market is pushing newer competing devices. The applications landscape is catching up fast with enterprise software vendors getting there. Although challenges around security exist, new opportunities are vying to offer game changing business propositions that did not exist earlier.
The convenience of this tablet device scores over the conventional laptop, but is a long way before it replaces it totally. As manufacturers experiment with the form factor and features, one thing is certain — the iPad or equivalent is here to stay. Globally, the iPad has been successful in Pharmaceutical industry for detailing. Market researchers now use it for interactive discussions, even as it becomes a convenient add-on to the CXO, and an alternative to e-book readers, amongst others.
CIOs should move into proactive mode to embrace the inevitability of tablet computers within the enterprise. It is time to redesign processes with the new device — rather than replace current devices for existing processes — as the benefits may not be worth the effort. The iPad is disruptive technology, and thus deserves different treatment. Challenge the enterprise across layers to explore how it can create new possibilities that did not exist before.
The global CIOs without exception agreed that they have to deal with this surge. Some are approaching it using policy, while others are taking it head on. So don’t wait around to get beaten up by the business, as it may just bypass IT to serve their quest for innovation.