Is iPad Over-Hyped in the Enterprise?

The city of Minneapolis was left underwhelmed by an iPad and BYOD program for city workers. Yet despite the slow start, the city's CIO still feels that an iPad enterprise storm is brewing and he'll be ready when it hits.

Tue, August 07, 2012

CIO — CIO Otto Doll of the city of Minneapolis bought into the iPad craze in January, opening his computing environment to both company-issued and personally-owned iPads. He figured many of the city's 3,600 PC-toting workers would take up his offer and flood the network with Apple's magic tablet.

Six months later, only 170 iPads have been deployed in the city.

Apple Store in Minneapolis, MN

"It was kind of surprising," Doll says. "We were really expecting more folks to jump on the bandwagon. I thought there was this pent-up demand and expected 400 or 500 right off the bat."

So is the iPad over-hyped as an enterprise tool?

Many obstacles stand in the way of the iPad's march to the enterprise. Apple and the media have played up the iPad's promise, perhaps setting up unrealistic expectations. The iPad itself is a poor replacement for laptops for most knowledge workers. It's costly for companies, especially money-strapped cities such as Minneapolis, to embrace new computers that don't replace existing ones.

Yet despite the initially low iPad adoption rate, Minneapolis isn't looking back. The bet on consumer technology will eventually pay off, Doll says.

"Part of my job is bringing people back to reality when they drink the Kool-Aid," he says. "In reality, there's a whole series of pieces that have to be in place for all of this stuff to click, and we're getting there."

The iPad Enterprise Craze

At every quarterly earnings report, Apple makes huge claims about the iPad in the enterprise. Ninety-four percent of Fortune 500 companies have deployed or are testing the iPad. Early adopters range in industries from healthcare to manufacturing. CEO Tim Cook has often said that he's never seen an enterprise adoption rate like this in his life.

The third-generation iPad released earlier this year has been an enterprise hit, according to a survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. One in five customers who bought the third-generation iPad planned to use the device for business.

Slideshow: 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work

Some 85 million iPads have been sold since it debuted in April 2010. Recently, Apple extended its worldwide lead in the tablet market, boosting its market share of units shipped to almost 70 percent, according to market researcher IDC.

Rosy numbers aside, the iPad still has a long way to go, says Doll.

"There's this perception that everybody and their grandmother owns an iPad, and it's just not true," he says. "It's actually a fairly small percentage of the total households of our workforce."

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