iPads are Hot in Government Enterprises– What’s Next?

  iPad mania is here,  and I’m now convinced that this isn’t a fad.

From the Governor’s office to newly appointed department directors to staff bringing in personally owned “Christmas presents,” almost everyone either has or wants an iPad.  While this trend may not surprise many readers, I am a late arriver to this party. Yes, I saw the iPad fever spreading last spring, but I thought that current enterprise standards had a chance. But in the “buzz” competition between a wide variety of netbooks and the one and only iPad, it’s turning out to be a somewhat of a blowout – in the iPad’s favor. 

No doubt, after connecting the dots, I realize that I should have seen this trend developing much sooner. There have been many signs over the past nine months. Articles like:

 iPad Is Top Selling Tech Gadget Ever

iPad is White House’s ‘Hot New Toy’

or, Norway Uses iPad to Run Government During Icelandic Volcano  

But what I didn’t see until our recent government transition in Michigan was that these devices were becoming much more than just “toys.” Not only were they the preferred device of incoming politicians and new government leaders, schools are using them in place of laptops in Australia, police are using them to fight crime and the Canadian government is ditching paper and pen and adding iPads.

Like a large snowball rolling down hill, this is a big deal and getting bigger. Technology leaders that run enterprise networks need to pay close attention. I think Gartner’s prediction regarding iPads on enterprise networks, in which they say, “fewer than 10 percent of PCs sold to enterprises in 2015 for mainstream knowledge workers will have touch screens,” is way too conservative. Remember that you can plug keyboards and more into iPads.

 So why is this a big deal? Can’t we just unplug laptops and plug in the iPads instead? It’s not quite that easy.

As you might expect from a device made by Apple, there are interoperability issues with iPads playing nice on traditional enterprise networks. These new devices will bring added costs to technology teams around the world, which Gartner predicted in their “consumerization of IT” white papers. And yet, users want iPads and believe that they bring innovation now. Nevertheless, from identity management challenges to integrating with existing file systems, new iPads will require some care and feeding. 

One area that needs attention is security. Despite claims that Apple is inherently “more secure,” I told my team back in December to expect one or more serious Apple breaches in 2011. The reason: hackers always follow the crowds.

 It didn’t take long for my prediction to come true in 2011. In addition, there were several iPad breaches last year. Bottom line, iPad and iPhone users along with system architects who are seeing these new devices entering the enterprise, need to take cybersecurity seriously

So where is this trend heading and what should government enterprises do now? The answer certainly includes developing a comprehensive enterprise mobility management platform. This article from eWeek does a nice job of describing how to prepare your enterprise for Apple iPads.

Meanwhile, we just placed an order for more iPads for executives in Michigan. We are making adjustments in our wireless strategy and setting up new rules that allow iPads to communicate effectively. I now believe that this is the new normal in government – and probably everywhere else.

What about me? My iPad arrived last week.  

What are your thoughts on iPad mania? Any new iPad deployments in a governments or businesses near you?

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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