IT Shift Coming Your Way – iPads for Work and Play

Over the holidays, I did some travel in Asia, and I noticed something interesting – people from all different walks of life were using iPad tablets and iPhones.  From Laos to Hong Kong, young and old – they were hooked to these devices.  That got me thinking.  Just recently, I bought my wife an iPad for her birthday – and she is now in love with it.  I then recalled that my mother and father – who are not exactly tech savvy – are also on their iPads.  I now know we are going through another computing transformation and this should represent great opportunities for those that get in front of it.

I have been in the systems business for well over 25 years and I have seen the evolution of the PC as it was coming of age.  I was part of the DOS to Windows movement.  I participated in the transition between everyone owning a PC and then a laptop.  I built standalone database applications that moved to the  LAN, then client/server, and the web.  What I see happening now is what I like to call the “Consumerization of IT” – and there are some major implications for the way businesses are going to be run.

We are already seeing both businesses and consumers embrace the Cloud – whether it’s with services like Gmail or serious business systems like NetSuite.  And we’ve also seen a shift away from the client server Windows applications to the point where we’re really starting to harness the power of the web.  With the transition to using tablets such as the iPad alongside the power of existing mobile devices, businesses will naturally want to expand the way users of all types gain access to public and private networks.

Why will we see this moving forward? The truth is, many people are bringing their personal devices to work – iPads, mobile – and expecting to be able to use them, at a minimum, for email access.  Calendar and contact management are natural second place requests.  I have one client that is ready for a  mobile salesforce notebook technology refresh (IT speak for “time for new hardware”) and we are discussing adopting iPads.  This is an easy transition because the client is using NetSuite which works well on 1024×768 web browser display screens which the iPad natively supports. You simply can’t do that with most Microsoft business applications — it illustrates how far they are falling behind in offering applications needed to compete in today’s world. 

This brings us to the development of apps.  Currently, creating apps that work across both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS is difficult.   Remember the promise of Java;  write once, run everywhere.  This too was the promise behind HTML from the Developers’ perspective.  Today, writing for these mobile devices is twice the effort if not greater.  However, in due course, we will see companies make these apps function like the web with the goal being to unify breakdowns in various client hardware.

The effort required to create mobile business applications will become less expensive in the near future.  As this happens, businesses can count on increasingly pervasive adoption across all industries.  With costs sure to fall,  you can think about ways to be productive that have you and your people more mobile.  It also means that individuals are going to use their own devices to perform their work.  This has major implications to the way IT has traditionally been organized — thus, the “Consumerization of IT”.

Employees view their iPad as a personal device – using it to browse the Net, conduct personal matters, take pictures, post on Facebook.  Since they view their tablet as a personal device, they are also inclined to take better care of it.  As the trend to use your own mobile computer continues, the capacity to access a business system on a personal mobile device is natural if your applications are in the Cloud.  If a salesperson accidentally drops his iPad and breaks his screen, he or she will want to purchase another or get the repair done quickly — or else they will be cut off from day-to-day communications both personally and professionally.  The IT department may never even hear about the broken iPad.  This means a lot of business costs have been saved which can be directed to more productive action.  IT indeed has an opportunity to think more about making the business more competitive and less about the nuts-and-bolts of hardware systems.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to set up a conversation.

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