Why the iPad makes sense for business

Anthony Caruana
21 July, 2014
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iPad, business, enterprise, macworld australiaWhen the iPad was first released just over four years ago many critics said it was little more than a toy and that it would never be taken seriously by business. Now, just a short time later and there’s barely a household that doesn’t have an iPad and they are common in executive suites and boardrooms all over the world.

Why is that?

For starters, Apple’s brand power is incredibly powerful. The iPhone gave the company a huge boost with consumers. Where they won the market was in the way the hardware and software seamlessly worked together. It meant usability was suddenly enhanced in a way no one had achieved before. As a result, users bought iPhones and started bringing them to work.

Once the iPad was released, a few years later, Apple had already infiltrated businesses. The iPad built on the iPhone’s success.

Although Apple has never been a serious enterprise computing company they did a few things that helped them with businesses. For example, integrated VPN support, a secure operating system with all data automatically encrypted, the curated App Store and support for Microsoft Exchange all meant that connecting and connecting and securing an iPad is relatively easy.

The thing about the iPad isn’t that it can do things other tablets can’t. It’s that it makes many things much easier.

The recent announcement that IBM would be making enterprise apps for iOS vindicates what many have been saying – the iPad is a viable business device. IBM’s announcement means that businesses won’t just be looking for apps that fulfil pieces of the enterprise puzzle. They’ll be able to deploy end-to-end architectures and solutions that leverage the iPad.

The iPad also offers lots of advantages for mobile workers. The lightweight and slim body makes it ideal for those who need to stay connected while out of the office. The combination of Wi-Fi, cellular data and Bluetooth coupled with inbuilt VPN support and the ability to use third-party VPN solutions mean you can be securely connected using any number of different methods.

One area where the iPad has lagged behind notebooks and laptops has been deployment. Many businesses have well-established processes for deploying Windows-based devices that include configuration and application deployment. The Apple Configurator is a great, free tool for deploying lots of iOS devices. It allows you to disable specific applications, configure security, email and other settings for lots of iPads at one time.

We’ve also had success creating our own configuration tool that could be used to set up iPads over a Wi-Fi network using Apple’s Over The Air tools. If you’re looking for commercial products that do this then the Casper Suite is worth a look.

To BYOD or not to BYOD

BYOD has been one of the big enterprise trends of the last few years. The decision on whether BYOD is a suitable IT model for your business will depend on your preferences.

On one hand, getting users to buy their own equipment and bring it into the office sounds good as you can abrogate the responsibility for purchasing. On the other hand, IT’s control of the device is limited.

If you’re looking at BYOD, one thing you’ll want to ensure is that your business data and the user’s personal data are separated. In many cases that means running corporate applications in a secure ‘container’ on the device – similar to a virtual machine. For example, Good Technology offers a number of enterprise applications this way.

If you do decide that BYOD is the right fit for your business, make sure you put in place a mechanism for removing corporate data when employees leave that does not wipe their personal data.

4 Comments

4 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Perspective says:

    The fact that Apple is partnering with IBM suggests just the opposite to me. The iPad is not a viable business device. We have many iPads deployed that do little more than give the employe the ability to read email, take notes, and browse the web. Yes you can VPN to our network and use an app to RDP into a platform that actually has business software installed to do some real work, but working like that is about as painful as having a root canal. Sorry but the fact that someone even had to write this article is telling as to how viable the iPad really is as a business device.

  2. Ronald C Kxxxxx Jr says:

    Part of the story that is not yet published, but very much should be.

    The iPad *could be* a significantly better business tool IF I were allowed to properly operate/use programs such as Microsoft Office. For most of the world there is actually a *very limited* version of Microsoft Office for iPad, but with one incredibly large restriction.

    So imagine this one. Purchasing an iPad, and then eventually wanting to add in that title referred to as Microsoft Office. Why would Microsoft actually want to label it Office?

    Because IF one were to use that Microsoft Office for Ipad in ANY type of business environment (and I do mean ANY); that one would be violating one major Terms of Service legally binding agreement.

    So what would it mean to violate this T.O.S.. It would subject the user of the device and also even the business owner to lose the license of that software. It would literally be locked. Both would also be subject to first violation fines.

    Does this “sound” (actually read as) severe? It should.

  3. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Hi Perspective,

    Do you think that all jobs cannot be done with an iPad? Tim Cook has stated he does 80 percent of his work on his iPad. While this may be reading reports, taking notes, browsing the web and answering emails, this could be a large part of his workload.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan.

  4. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Hi Ronald,

    Office (PowerPoint, Excel and Word) is available on the iPad, and it has received pretty good reviews. Office 365, which includes the ability to use the apps, is available as a business subscription.

    How would using Office on the iPad violate the TOS?

    Cheers,
    Joanthan.

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