Have You Correctly Estimated Your Company’s Demand For Mobile?

First it was mobile phones, now its tablets…
First it was mobile phones, now its tablets…
Image Credit: Nana B Agyei

Can you remember back to when the iPhone was first introduced? If you can’t remember, it was June of 2007. Before then, mobile phones were just that – phones. However, the iPhone changed all of this – now phones were mini computers that wanted to connect to the company’s network and all of sudden everyone understood the importance of information technology. IT didn’t do a good job of anticipating how popular the iPhone would be and we’re doing a pretty poor job of realizing the impact of tablets.

The Arrival Of Tablets

The iPad was introduced in April of 2010. There were other tablets on the market, but this is the one that got everyone’s attention, including IT departments. What happened next is that just about every IT department went out and bought an iPad in order to play around with it and to try to determine what impact that it would have. What we all came away thinking was that the iPad was basically a niche device. We expected to see some executives be early adopters, but there was no reason for the IT department to take action now.

Guess what – we were wrong! It turns out that that in just about every company there were employees to whom the iPad really spoke. These employees became very excited about the possibilities that the iPad now made available and so they went out and became among the first purchasers of the new product. It’s what they did next that caused the biggest headache for IT. Once they had discovered how to use their new iPads, they started bringing them into work and trying to hook them up to the corporate network in large numbers.

The iPad also quickly caught on in a wide variety of niches where using a laptop computer had never been a really good solution. One great example of this is health care. Doctors were among the first users of iPads in the workplace. Nothing would stop them. There are many stories of doctors who would use applications with little or no built in security or trying to install desktop applications onto their iPads so that they could look at patient data while away from their office.

It’s All About Sales

What might surprise a number of people with the CIO job is that there is one department in the company in which the mobile properties of an iPad tablet most appealed to. This is the Sales department. This makes sense if you take the time to think about it. The sales teams spend most of time out in the field and so it only makes sense that they would be the ones who were the most interested in finding ways to easily get their hands on corporate data while away from the office.

One of the most powerful reasons that sales teams in every company have taken to the iPad so quickly is that they find that it facilitates their one-on-one talks with customers. Instead of having to stare at a customer over the flipped open screen of a laptop, they can lay their iPad on the table and not have it come between them and the customer.

What the sales teams are going to be looking to the IT department to do is to set polices regarding how the devices can be used and also implementing mobile device management systems. IT will also be responsible for making sure that tablet users have both the content that they need and the fine-tuned applications that will allow them to get the most out of their new devise.

What All Of This Means For You

IT does not have the best track record when it comes to dealing with radical changes. When the first wave of iPhones swept across the company, we had not anticipated just how popular these devices were going to be. The IT department and its systems were not ready. Now that the iPad has arrived, we are facing a very similar situation.

When the iPad first arrived, IT departments took a quick look at it and then discounted it because it appeared to be a niche product. It turns out that they were wrong. Early adopter employees went out and then brought the devices into the workplace in record numbers. Niche markets like doctors have also adopted them faster than the IT department could react. In every company, the sales teams are quickly finding ways to use tablets in their work.

The one thing that the person in the CIO position does not want to have happen is to get caught flat-footed. Instead, you’d like to be out in front so that when employees of your company come to you with new devices, you already have a plan on how you are going to incorporate that into the company’s network. Take the time to study how you’ll support the iPad and you’ll be ready when sales comes knocking on your door.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Should you announce your iPad mobile device policy before people ask you for one?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We’ve all heard the stories about IT shops with 100’s if not 1000’s of servers that are all being utilized at the 2% level. Shucks, we heard about this all the back in 2008 and that’s when the server virtualization vendors started showing up and knocking on our doors to remind us about the importance of information technology. Virtualization turned out to be a magic cure, but is it still the cure that the person with the CIO job needs today?