Corporate IT, consider yourself warned: You'll be dealing with the iPad in your enterprise, whether or not you want to. And it won't just be the iPad; tablets and slates of all sorts are on their way in as well, as Android, WebOS, and Windows Compact Embedded 7 devices begin shipping in 2011. That's one of the findings from a survey of 1,100 enterprise employees polled by mobile management vendor iPass in a report released on Tuesday.
According to survey results, 16.3 percent of mobile employees already have an iPad or tablet PC device, and another 33.2 percent planned to purchase or receive one in the next six months. A surprising 59.8 percent of those planned to use it for significant amounts of work, while 30.8 percent said they would use it for mostly personal reasons but also for some work. (It's a good thing that the forthcoming iOS 4 for iPad offers corporate-level security capabilities that third-party management tools can tap into.) A surprisingly small percentage said the iPad would go toward personal use only.
Here's the breakdown of intended iPad and tablet usage:
Although Apple has never positioned the iPad as a work device, and it certainly has limits in business settings today, users seem to be noticing the business potential for themselves, as are some forward-thinking business and IT leaders. In my ongoing informal conversations with vendors and IT managers, I keep hearing about the fascination many have with using the iPad at work across a wide range of industries: financial services, retail, hospitals, and all manner of field forces.
A couple examples: Intercontinental Hotel Group is piloting the use of iPads by its concierges at some hotels, so they're not tethered to a computer to help guests find directions and book services. And the D7 Consulting construction firm has given its onsite managers iPads to access construction drawings and othert support materials in the field.
iPass had an insightful explanation for why consumer-oriented devices such as the iPad were gaining such traction by business users: It's the apps that determine whether a device is business or consumer, not the device itself. Because iPads and other slates can run a variety of apps, they can be used for a variety of purposes, no matter what they're marketed for.
Plus, the basic apps that come with smartphones and tablets are inherently dual-purpose. The iPass survey found that, across the board, most respondents were using email, calendar, text messaging, browsing, and other applications for both work and personal use on their smartphones. The only exception was social media, which was primarily accessed for personal use.
Add the facts that the idea of personal/business divisions are largely going away in the smartphone world, and that those divisions have been severely weakened even on PCs thanks to the widespread "work at home" phenomenon. The iPass survey says that 94.4 percent of those polled already use their smartphones for both work and personal reasons. Those realities and changes in attitude give more impetus to people using devices as they see fit, in all sorts of contexts.
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