iPad in the Enterprise

Does the iPad have killer enterprise potential?  After all, most business applications these days have a browser based interface, surely it is a nicely sized device to assist many business processes and functions.

Randall C. Kennedy of PCWorld thinks not. Citing the lack of keyboard and mouse making for harder data input capabilities, he suggests that the main way of using these lightweight tablets is as a Citrix Receiver session viewer.  However, I'd question whether this is jsut a temporary view on how the devices could be an efficient solution in the enterprise. After all, Citrix Receiver is just being used to turn the iPad into a remote session for a Windows 7 screen. The two devices weren't really meant for each other.

Rather, I'd turn to the potential of new applications being made to assist users perform their everyday tasks without needing a full laptop device.  People on the move, working outside the office, frequently use handheld devices to log visits, sign off delivery of goods and services. The simplest use of the iPad would be as an improvement on many of these jobs. 

The next thing would be looking at new applications for handhelds, that were not practical before.  
Suggestions include as:

  • an E-learning tool 
  • presentation device for salespeople 
  • mobile email client
  • e-manual for product documentation
At first, they will come into the enterprise as unmanaged devices that power users will connect to the network via wifi mainly for personal use. However these users will find true business purposes for the devices and then they will be embraced. Tony Bradley's article highlights how this has already happened with iPhones, which were first seen as purely personal devices. 

What remains is for the business itself to identify some uses of the iPad, where other devices are not appropriate, and justify it.  Is there also space for all the different kinds of devices - ipod touch, iphone, pda, blackberry, netbook, laptop, desktop?