Stop me if you've heard this before: Your CEO rushes into your cubicle waving a printout of the latest breaking analyst report, saying, "We needed this technology yesterday!" In this case, it's market researcher Gartner's report telling CEOs to seize the iPad opportunity.
"What do you need iPads for?" you ask sheepishly.
Feeling a bit stumped, the CEO turns to the report and reads it verbatim:
"Stephen Prentice, Gartner Fellow and vice president, says, 'It is not usually the role of the CEO to get directly involved in the specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is the exception. It is more than just the latest consumer gadget, and CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about it if they have not already done so.'"
"Can I see it?" you ask.
Media tablets are on the brink of explosive growth—a fuse lit by the iPad—with sales projected to surpass 54 million units next year, up 181 percent from this year, according to Gartner. Apple has already sold 7.5 million iPads since its release in April. More than 65 percent of Fortune 500 are deploying or piloting the iPad, Apple says.
[ A new Gartner report outlines seven critical areas in a CEO's agenda, reports CIO.com. ]
There's little question tablets are coming to the enterprise, and so "IT organizations should provide at least 'concierge'-level iPad support for a limited number of key users, and prepare a budgeted plan for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011," the Gartner report says.
What if you're a Windows shop? What about concerns over Apple's lackluster enterprise support? Silly CIO, you don't make technology decisions anymore. Gartner says we're in the age of consumerization of IT in the enterprise. Employees are in charge now, and they want the iPad.
Then there's the uncomfortable question about return on investment, or ROI. In the era of flat IT budgets, you needed to justify every dollar spent. Apparently, ROI isn't such a big deal when the technology purchasing order comes from the top.
"Organizations need to recognize that there are soft benefits in a device of this type in the quest to improve recruitment and retention," says the Gartner report. "Technology is not always about productivity."
On the bright side, CIOs aren't the only ones on the hook to support the iPad. Gartner also advises CEOs to get their marketing and product development teams on board—that is, to come up with a creative briefing as soon as possible that shows how iPads could be used for competitive advantage.
After all, the iPad will disrupt and redefine markets, Gartner says.
If the idea of a competitive advantage doesn't motivate CEOs, there's always the fear factor: "Even if you think [the iPad] is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the price of delay may well be extremely high," says Gartner's Prentice.
Unfortunately, fear often rolls down hill.