The Tablet Tsunami and the Enterprise


by Samuel Greengard

Gauging from the frenzy over Apple and the iPad, you would think Cupertino had invented a device that allows you to travel in time or eat junk food without gaining weight and clogging your arteries. Already, Apple has sold over 3 million units in the first 80 days and there appears to be no end in sight.

I know. I know. It probably perplexes you if you're not standing under the Apple Tree. One senior executive at a major mobile hardware manufacturer recently gasped to me: "Microsoft invented a tablet a decade ago and it went nowhere and now Apple invents one and it sells off the charts! It doesn't make any sense!"

Well, I hate to break it to you Mr. Senior Executive of a Leading Company, but it makes perfect sense. And you better pay close attention if you want to keep your job. First of all, the landscape has changed and technology has advanced. But it also comes down to the fact that Apple knows how to build a product the right way, design it so that it's easy to use, and construct the plumbing to make it work well.

Mark my words: tablets are coming to the enterprise in a big way and they will further change the way the work gets done. Apple ignited the market and Cisco, Dell, HP and others are scrambling for a piece of the action. IDG reports that worldwide shipments of tablets will swell from 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate of 57.4%. Here's more.

This isn't a ripple, it's a tsunami. The iPad and similar devices are ideal for a variety of industries and situations, including healthcare, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, real estate, and insurance. Better form factors, multi-touch and gesturing features, ubiquitous connectivity and enterprise level security features have finally transformed them from a kludgy novelty into a mainstream computing device.

The upshot? It's wise to start pondering how you can incorporate Apple, Android and Windows tablets into your enterprise. In some cases they might replace desktop and notebook computers and in other instances they might complement them. And while you're at it, think about how Apple builds a device and an entire ecosystem. In the right hands, it's a lesson for how IT can deliver services more effectively.

Love Apple or hate Apple but the results remain the same: the iPad is a game changer, just as the iPhone was. The sooner you swallow that tablet the better off you'll be.