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The iPad and the Enterprise: Essential Tool or Flashy Diversion?

By most accounts, Apple’s iPad tablet PC has been a success. Apple has claimed that more than 3 million iPads were sold by June 2010, and the vast majority of those sales have undoubtedly been for consumer use. But is the iPad gaining any ground in the enterprise?

One area where the iPad seems to be making inroads into corporate IT is as a device that displays content for cloud and software as a service (SaaS) business solutions. I recently spoke with Patrick Oates, the CEO of Wine Management Systems (WMS) -- a company that provides cloud-based business intelligence (BI) products for wineries -- about how his company has been using the iPad in sales pitches.

“The wine industry historically has not been very technology minded,” says Oates. “We traditionally have had to do a lot of explaining about how technology can impact the wine business. We’re essentially delivering a SaaS product, and the iPad has been a great tool for us – we’re the only [winery BI] service that can be used with an iPad.” Oates praises the iPad for its wireless connectivity, “instant-on” operation and for giving customers a mobile device that can easily be used on the go. Non-technical users can intuitively access WMS services using a web browser and the iPad touch screen, without having to lug around a heavier laptop.

Other IT vendors are beginning to take notice of iPad adoption in the enterprise: Sybase is already touting a solution that can manage iPads in a corporate environment, while ServiceMax has developed an iPad app aimed at pushing the device as a modern solution for field service applications. Good Technology, a provider of cloud-based mobility products for the enterprise, claimed in a recent press release that the iPad has gained ground in the financial services sector.

"We took a close look at our customers who have deployed iPad devices so far," said John Herrema, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Good Technology. "We found that the financial services sector dominated, accounting for 36 percent of Good's iPad activations to date. The technology sector came in second at 11 percent, followed closely by healthcare at 10 percent.”

So where do you stand on iPad use in the enterprise? We'd love to hear your comments and feedback, so feel free to add a comment to this blog post, or get the discussion started on Twitter.

Follow Jeff James on Twitter at @jeffjames3

Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro

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