It's no surprise that the iPad is finding support in the enterprise. It's Apple and it's cool. At a higher level, it's worth comparing the fast adoption of the new tablet with the slower and tentative acceptance of the iPhone when it was introduced three years ago. The difference says as much about the coalescing of consumer and business wireless as the quality of the devices themselves.
Bloomberg last week posted a story detailing some of the gains the iPad has made. The first two sentences aptly sum up how drastically the world has changed:
Wells Fargo & Co. spent two years studying the iPhone before letting bankers use the device at work. Apple Inc.'s iPad, released in April, took just weeks to get cleared.
The story notes that SAP, Wells Fargo, Tellabs and Daimler AG are using iPads. It also points out that tablet competition is on the way from HP, Dell, LG, Samsung and Cisco, which introduced the enterprised-focused Cius last month.
The world is changing significantly. Computerworld Editor in Chief Scot Finnie points out that the rise of consumer products in the enterprise is a sister trend to increased corporate use social networking. Finnie makes the point that the consumerization of IT and use of social networks together represent a significant transition for business, and one to which IT departments must pay attention. Wrote Finnie:
Business people are weary of complex, monolithic software. They want lightweight, Web-based tools that echo the feel, and even sometimes the purpose, of social media apps like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They want to blend personal and professional communications because it's all about multitasking. They want slick devices that unify all aspects of their lives. And they want to be able to use that software on their devices for business and personal needs wherever they go. No limits.
Did you know the iPad and the iPhone both have 256 bit hardware encryption? What I like about that is your device performance does not suffer as a result of the encryption, not like the BlackBerry. The iPad and the iPhone have Microsoft Exchange support built-in and you can configure strong passwords, password expiration, password reuse history, max failed login attempts, auto-lock and remote wipe. You can also create and deploy configuration profiles using the iPhone Configuration Utility that control installation of apps and user interaction.
There is a strong message in all this on two levels. The most obvious is that Apple products are as strong a presence in the enterprise as they ever have been. The even bigger message is that the line between consumer and corporate IT-especially on the mobile side-has essentially ceased to exist.