iPad Pilot Programs' Dirty Little Secrets
iPads in the enterprise is a great concept and many companies are eager to roll out pilot programs. However, the reality is that these programs can drag out for years and, in some cases, thousands of iPads sit in warehouses waiting for programs to be approved.
Tue, September 17, 2013
CIO — ATLANTA -- Speaking to a packed room at the AirWatch Connect customer event in Atlanta last week, Aaron Freimark, CTO of Tekserve, a New York-based Apple consultancy, asked the crowd: "How many of you have been in an iPad pilot for over two years?"
A few brave souls sheepishly raised their hands, while the rest of the attendees broke out in nervous laughter. It seemed as if everyone was caught in the same lie. Truth is, many IT pros are faced with stalled iPad pilot projects that threaten to derail a larger rollout.
"It's the dirty little secret of iPads," Freimark says.
Tekserve knows all about iPad deployment troubles having been in the trenches since the original iPad appeared in the spring of 2010. Tekseve was involved in one of the first iPad deployments and, later, one of the biggest at the time -- 7,000 iPads in airport restaurants across the country.
Can iPads Go From the Warehouse to the Enterprise?
Nevertheless, thousands of iPads continue to be stuck in warehouses.
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Here's just a sampling: A Minnesota retailer has 1,500 iPads that have been stashed in a warehouse for years, Freimark says. A carrier has 20,000 iPads waiting to be rolled out, he says, but the pilot project can't clear them for takeoff.
High-end retailer Tiffany's had iPod Touches intended to be used as point-of-sale devices piled up in a closet for two years -- that is, until Tekserve set them free. Tekserve has rescued iPad pilots from Cablevision and others.
"This is a little scary, right?" Freimark says. "That's a lot of cash going down the drain."
Why Pilots Go Off Course
The iPad pilot problem is a tricky one to solve, because there are so many ways pilots get bogged down. Reasons run the gamut. Pilots can be derailed when IT isn't involved enough or when IT is too involved. Pilots can get stuck when strategic scalability considerations aren't well- thought-out or tactical iPad training gets short shrift.
A couple of years ago, a sales group at a luxury retailer wanted to give iPads to its district managers. The group hired Tekserve to deploy iPads under the condition that Tekserve not involve the IT department; IT had a reputation for throwing up roadblocks to tech adoption. Upon receiving their new iPads, the district managers logged on at the same time -- and down went the Lotus Notes server.