iPad Culture Shock for IT

The iPad is unlike any other enterprise technology, delivered to market by a vendor seemingly indifferent to CIOs, and surrounded by mass media-fed confusion. How can CIOs cope?

Tue, August 23, 2011

CIO — Thanks to the iPad, the traditional IT culture is about to be upended.

Consider the career path of the techie and the training involved. You start out as a technician, rise to management, then maybe go on to a leadership position and become a CTO or CIO. Each step supports hardware and software that largely hasn't changed.

But then it does, here comes the iPad.

"It's a whole different way," says Aaron Freimark, IT director at Apple (AAPL) services firm Tekserve, which helps Fortune 1000 companies adopt the iPad.

Aaron Freimark of Tekserve

The culture shock stems from the notion that the iPad doesn't have software drivers, a real operating system, the all-important Explorer browser or client-server applications. It's a vastly new platform where software kind of disappears.

On the hardware side, there aren't any screws or power supplies.

The media-fed chaos concerning iPads in the enterprise doesn't help matters, either. "CIOs will read one article where there's a lot of confusion and another article of an iPad success story," Freimark says. "It's very disorienting."

What is IT to do?

Smart CIOs will cut through the confusion and see the iPad for what it is: an opportunity to break out of the technical trappings that have isolated them from the business side for decades.

"Some of the best of us will say, 'Good riddance'" to the old ways, Freimark says. "Now we're able to concentrate on having people be productive with technology."

Freimark shares more of his thoughts on the subject in an interview with CIO.com to clear up some of the iPad confusion.

Apple hasn't been a friend to the CIO in the past. The iPad's rapid rise in the enterprise puts a real strain on the relationship. How can CIOs overcome this problem?

Freimark: A lot of companies aren't getting the help from Apple that they would like, either from sourcing or for guidance about what's coming in the future or even how to roll out an iPad pilot program. Anyone who claims to be looking into the future with Apple products is lying or breaking their agreements.

That said, if you're paying close attention, there are a lot of things you can read in the tea leaves. You can see which direction things are going. For instance, Apple is a very savvy device manufacturer that doesn't want lots of specialized models of their equipment. They want a single platform that everyone uses. So I don't think I'll ever see a business-class iPad.

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