Tablets In Business

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iPad in the Enterprise Part I: The Consumerization of Enterprise IT

By Nathan Clevenger

Consumers have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of “apps,” and indeed, there is an app for just about everything today. As Apple has stated, whether you “want to read a restaurant review, read an MRI or just read a regular old book” there is an app for that!

Service businesses were some of the first companies to adopt consumer-facing apps as a differentiator. In 2009, Nationwide Insurance launched its Nationwide Mobile iPhone app to provide customers with an “Accident Toolkit.” In addition to calling emergency services, the app could file an accident report using GPS to pin-point the user’s exact location. It could even capture pictures of auto damage with the iPhone camera.

Later that year, GEICO launched its own GEICO GloveBox, which quickly became the focus of GEICO advertising. By the spring of 2010, almost all major auto insurance companies had released iPhone apps.

Since then, many other industries (retailers, utilities, healthcare providers, etc.) have launched consumer-facing apps that give their customers more power and insight into services than ever before.

As an employee of one of these companies, say an insurance claims adjuster, how would you feel about the fact that your employer has given better technology to your customers than to you? In less time than it takes to boot up your company-provided laptop, an adjuster could pull an iPhone out of their pocket, install an enterprise app from the App Store, log in, start a customer claim, capture relevant accident data, capture GPS coordinates of the location and take pictures of the damage.

This isn’t an imagined scenario; rather, it’s a real-life situation faced by thousands of corporate employees every day. As a result, it’s not a matter of whether enterprises are going to embrace employee-facing smartphone and tablet apps, it’s a matter of when. In the same way that consumer trends brought support for mobile platforms into the workplace, enterprises must also recognize the demand of employees to have apps for business purposes.

The founder and CEO of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, agrees that this transformative shift is as much about software as it is hardware. He says, “Our industry has gone through many shifts, but ultimately, the big ones have always been about software, not hardware. Now, we are seeing a simultaneous software and hardware revolution. Sales of mobile devices and tablets have far outpaced PCs. The key apps we use will all be rewritten to take advantage of this fundamental transformation. That transformation even extends to where we use these apps. Because devices like the iPad are so easy to carry and can be used anywhere, it creates a truly mobile workforce. That’s why I plan to put an iPad in the hands of all my salespeople.”

A new book, iPad in the Enterprise: Developing and Deploying Business Applications, details how corporations can leverage mobile devices to empower employees with the information that they need to do their jobs. The book, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, provides a roadmap to develop an enterprise mobility strategy, choose the right platform and develop applications.

Author Bio
Nathan Clevenger has been developing mobile software for more than 12 years and is the author of iPad in the Enterprise: Developing and Deploying Business Applications, a book designed to help CIOs and IT managers define and implement effective mobile strategies and platforms. 

In addition to being enterprise editor for iPhone Life magazine, Nathan is chief software architect at ITR Mobility, a mobile management and IT consulting firm, where he works with FORTUNE 500 companies to develop mobile strategies and enterprise architectures.

Look for upcoming posts (Parts II and III) to address keys to develop an enterprise mobility strategy and examples of application types for different vertical industries.

Tablets in Business 

Businesses are refocusing their mobile strategies and turning to tablets. But new devices present new challenges for IT and decision makers. Join TabletPCReview in exploring the world of enterprise tablets, with news and solutions-oriented analysis.

Finally, we want to hear from you. Are you using a tablet for work? If so, which tablet. What features do you want in a business tablet. Please take a minute to take our Tablets in Business survey, and we’ll report the results.

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