iPad Business Markets: Financial Services, High Tech and Health Care?

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Which industries are adopting the iPad fastest? Financial services, high tech, and health care, in that order, say new research results from Good Technology. Yet to what extent do these results actually reflect the use of the Apple iPad in business?

Financial services, at 36.8%, dominates the deployments in Good’s numbers. The high tech industry lands in second place with 11.4%, followed closely by health care at 10.5%. The legal market at 8.8%, and government at 8.3%, also both consume rather large slices in Good’s pie chart. 

Industries where the iPad is showing lesser amounts of early use include wholesale/retail, entertainment/media, business professional services, energy/utilities, communications, and manufacturing.

Good Technology, however, is a provider of enterprise mobility applications, and its results are based on activations with its own user base, which consists of 4,000 enterprise customers. Results of Good’s survey could be skewed on several scores.

Apple iPadFor one thing, Good’s statistics don’t take into account the use of iPads by SMBs and entrepreneurs. Anecdotally, news reports have been cropping up about the use of iPads by small real estate firms, mom-and-pop stores, and even musical recording artists. Good’s study also leaves out industries that aren’t commonly regarded as “businesses,” such as education, where iPads are also growing strong.

Even if you consider enterprises only, it’s quite possible that Good has disproportionate numbers of customers in certain industries, in comparison to others.

With all that said, there’s certainly some evidence to support the notion that the three fields pinpointed by Good Technology — financial services, high tech, and health care – are showing plenty of action in early adoption of the iPad, among businesses of various sizes. Yet this doesn’t necessarily mean Apple won’t face some obstacles ahead, even in those three arenas.

Financial Services

Unitus Community Credit Union is one relatively small financial services firm now using the iPad. According to a report in Credit Union Times, Unitus’ business development manager, Bret Wooden, is visiting potential customers with an iPad in hand. Instead of urging businesses to go into a branch to open up an account, he takes the iPad to their work places and signs them up on the spot.

On the other side of the size spectrum, financial giant JP Morgan this month unveiled an iPad app aimed at giving investment customers instant mobile access to its stock market research and analysis services.

Still, Apple is heading toward more competition in financial services and other business markets from new tablets, particularly with the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook now on the horizon. Reportedly, ManuLife Financial Corp. is already testing the PlayBook. Meanwhile, insurer SunLife has signed on to buy as many as 1,000 PlayBooks. Likewise, the Canadian banking unit of ING Groep NV says it is committed to buying RIM’s tablet.

According to Bloomberg, RIM is banking on security features such as the PlayBook’s e-mail encryption to win out over Apple among financial services pros.

High Tech

Despite the results of Good’s survey, wide-scale deployments of iPads at high tech companies are still hard to locate. Like smartphones before it, though, the iPad is now turning into a ubiquitous device at technology shows — even at conferences about enterprise databases, CRM (customer relationship management), and other topics not directly related to either Apple or mobile devices.

Computer pros are often among the first to sport the latest and greatest, partly because they’re generally keenly interested in technology, anyway. Yet folks such as systems integrators and VARs certainly wouldn’t mind making some money off of new devices, either.

Forrester Research has already released a report highlighting three sorts of  business opportunities high tech companies might pursue with iPads: “Displace” (where a laptop is used rather than a laptop); “Replace” (where an iPad replaces a clipboard); and “New Place” (where a tablet is used in situations where “nothing” has been used so far).

Yet users in high tech industries can be fickle. Could the iPhone lose favor among high tech customers if it fails to generate enough new business, or if better tablet technology comes along? The iPad does seem very well suited to many purposes, such as delivering sales presentations, taking notes in a classroom, and glancing at medical images, to name a few.
 
But many in the high tech industry might readily admit that an iPad can’t really replace a laptop PC, due to its lack of a hard keyboard and the absence of Adobe Flash. However, the recent release of iOS 4.2 has brought multitasking to the iPad, along with a host of features to aid in enterprise integration, including security measures like remote wipe abilities.

Health Care

AppleSpeaking of medical images, the health care field is one area where pilot tests and large deployments of the iPad are particularly visible. iPads are also getting put to use as portable medical workstations for doctors and nurses, and as rehabilitative tools for hospital-bound patients in need of apps such as text-to-speech (TSS).

According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, Loyola University Medical Center has now given iPads to all of its orthopedic residents as part of a pilot program. Meanwhile, the University of Chicago Medical Center is expanding on an earlier pilot by providing iPads to all of its internal medicine residents.

Many doctors are discovering the iPad to be a convenient way of accessing medical electronic records, because it is lighter than a laptop and it’s good on long battery life.

The iPad carries limitations, though, in health care, too. By some accounts, the 1024-by-768 resolution of the iPad screen is adequate for showing CT scans to patients, but not for “primary diagnostic x-ray review.”

Moreover, patients might find out that, while some rehabilitative equipment is covered by insurance plans, the iPad is not among them.

Some doctors still tend to the conservative side, and not all of them are tech enthusiasts. In one recent poll conducted by Epocrates, 20 percent of physicians said they planned to buy an iPad. On the other hand, 38% expressed interest, but said they wanted to get more information before making up their minds for sure.

Read more on the iPad in health care on our sister site, SearchHealthIT:

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