Gartner is encouraging CEOs to appeal directly to CIOs regarding the iPad in a new CEO advisory. We've covered the growth of the iPad in the enterprise quite a bit, but why should YOUR It department support the iPad? Gartner says that unless you can find a compelling reason NOT to support it, you should at least start supporting it for a few users. Gartner cites a few reasons worth considering.
The iPad is About More Than Productivity
Gartner encourages decision makers to consider the "soft benefits" of supporting iPads in the workplace, such as recruitment and retention. I would add to this that although the job market is rough, many workers are still dissatisfied with their jobs. Having tools that are pleasant to use could contribute to worker satisfaction. (On the other hand, having more tools to support may contribute to IT worker dissatisfaction.)
Workers are Often Willing to Buy These Devices Themselves
Speaking of the economy, many business units remain strapped for cash. Workers are willing to shell out for iPads on their own, reducing the financial risk of supporting the devices. And if workers are buying the devices themselves, you can bet that adoption won't be an issue. After years of management and IT ramming technology down employees throats, here's something workers are actually begging for.
It DOES Have Productivity Benefits
There are actually business reasons to support the iPad as well. The iPad has proven to be a better device for sales meetings or other situations where information sharing is valuable, but a notebook can be obtrusive.
In September Matthew McKenzie wrote that iPads are passing the "Bubba test" (his words, not mine). What he means here is that sales reps are finding the iPad an invaluable tool for sales people even outside of hip or tech savvy industries. McKenzie quotes a friend who works in outside sales for an industrial supply company:
"There's a difference between looking at a laptop screen together and looking at an iPad screen," he said. "With the iPad, it's more like you're doing somethig with the other person -- with a laptop presentation it's more like you're doing something to them."
Gartner cites examples of professionals such as architects, realtors and financial advisors that can take advantage of such a form factor.
The iPad is also good for consuming media, like slide decks and lengthy PDF white papers that can get quite uncomfortable to read on the screen but seem like wastes of paper to print.
Apple Offers Enterprise Management Tools
Gartner mentions that some IT departments may push back because "Apple does not support the enterprise." That actually not the case. Apple does offer tools for enterprise management. There have been iOS security issues, but that's par for the course these days.
Update: See also this CIO post about deploying iPads.