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Correct information on iPad at Work

Enterprises are adopting iPads faster than anyone could have anticipated two short years ago. Why are we talking about iPads and not tablets in general? The answer is Apple absolutely dominates as the tablet of choice in the enterprise. Good Technology recently released its quarterly activation stats, and iPads “dominated tablet activations for the quarter with 97.3% of total tablet activations.” According to Apple (Q2 2012 earnings call), iPads are in use (testing, deploying, deployed) in 94% of the Fortune 500 and 75% of the Global 500. Frankly, clients don’t ask us about Android tablets at this point, they ask us about iPads. As consumers, employees are embracing the device for personal use, and quickly realizing that it can also be a very useful business tool. Forward thinking IT leaders are working with the business to identify use cases; where can the device improve productivity, streamline workflows, reduce costs, and even help grow top line revenue? We often get the question, “what are the use cases?” We can certainly help identify some of the obvious use cases in certain job roles and verticals, as identified in Info-Tech’s “ iPad Hands On Review” of the original iPad in April, 2010: Healthcare – for years hospitals and healthcare facilities have tried to incorporate early generation convertible tablets with resistive touchscreen displays for bedside care. The 4-5 pound devices were heavy, the resistive touchscreens required a stylus, the touch capabilities of the operating systems were abysmal, the batteries lasted two hours, and doctors and nurses hated them. Most hospitals already use Citrix, so they are used to deliver applications through a virtual/presentation server. Everything changes when you can deliver the necessary applications to a 1.5 pound tablet with a capacitive multi-touch display and ten hours of battery life. Education – Students currently pay a lot of money for text books that are very heavy to carry around – back strain from carrying 20+ pound backpacks is common. The books kill a lot of trees and cost a lot to manufacture. The era of the bound, paper text book is nearing an end. If it’s not a multi-function tablet device like the iPad, it will be an e-book reader like the Kindle. The Kindle has some advantages on this front, but what it’s missing is the multi-function part. Students can use a multi-function tablet to connect to the Student Information System, do research online, communicate and collaborate, and view video lectures. This type of device will almost certainly find a place in higher education. Professional services – Consider real estate agents using this device to research and view properties in real time with their clients while travelling in desired areas. There are several situations where opening and booting a laptop is not ideal, but carrying a 1.5 pound, instant-on device with a 9.7 inch display and WWAN connectivity would be ideal. Field services – The possibilities are endless for this role. All service manuals can be stored and kept current on the device. The field service application can be live so the technician can immediately enter information on the service call, then be routed to the next call immediately and efficiently. How about an insurance adjuster or a building inspector? Retail – This class of device quickly and easily becomes a mobile POS terminal. Rather than customers queuing up at cash registers, store associates can go to the customer, assist them, and accept payment without the customer ever standing in a line. If you’ve never been to an Apple store, they do exactly this. They use iPod Touch’s for mobile POS terminals, and there is not a queue to pay anywhere in the store. The use cases have obviously evolved significantly, and we are no longer looking at the iPad as a consumption-only device. Content creation is certainly viable, particularly when a keyboard is paired with the device. Rather than try to identify all of the potential use cases, it makes more sense to determine the viability of different tasks and activities. In short, what it does really well, what it can do in a pinch, and what it simply can’t do. The iPad is ideal for: Consuming content of pretty much any kind. Reading, listening to audio, viewing images, watching video, Web browsing – virtually any type of content. Personal Information Management (PIM), including email, contacts, and calendaring. With Exchange ActiveSync integration, it’s ideal for organizations that use Microsoft Exchange, but also works very well with virtually every other platform. Personal document/notebook management and note taking/organizing using apps like Evernote or OneNote. These apps are ideal for organizing notes, documents, to-do lists, etc. Communicating and collaborating using enterprise Unified Communications (UC), video/web conferencing, social networking, and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, or using any of the countless consumer-grade apps. Using Web-based (non-Flash) mobile- optimized enterprise applications and forms. Using native (developed for iOS) enterprise applications , such as CRM, ERP, BI, ECM, etc. Securely connecting to business resources and applications through secure Wi-Fi or VPN over 3G/4G networks. The iPad will do in a pinch: Document creation and editing. The biggest challenge here is compatibility with Microsoft Office. If you use Apple’s iWork suite or Google Docs in the enterprise, you can move this up to the previous section. If you use Microsoft Office (most do), none of the currently available word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps or suites available for the iPad (including Apple’s own iWork apps) have perfect compatibility. Most work pretty well with simple documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, but fidelity is often lost with more complex files. There are also features missing, like commenting and tracking changes. It is widely rumored that Microsoft will release a version of Office for the iPad soon, but unless/until that happens, the compatibility challenge remains for native apps. However, there is a free office app called CloudOn that delivers native Microsoft Office apps through application virtualization. It works well, but requires Internet connectivity. Accessing non-native, non-Web enterprise applications . Thick client enterprise applications that run on Windows will obviously not run natively on the iPad. However, application virtualization can make those applications accessible on the iPad even if they don’t run natively. The most common solution is Citrix XenApp on the back end, and Citrix Receiver on the iPad. The applications are published in XenApp and actually run in the data center, while Citrix Receiver runs on the iPad and accesses the applications running in the data center. VMWare View is another option, and new solutions from VMWare, including Horizon Application Manager, look compelling. Finally, there is the option of using an RDP client on the iPad to access a personal desktop. There are countless RDP clients available, but solutions like Citrix GoToMyPC and LogMeIn allow multiple simultaneous connections through the firewall. It’s notable that the user experience with these solutions is not great. Windows applications are not “touch-friendly”, so navigation is less than ideal. File Management. Local file management is out – iOS does not allow file-level access through a file manager. Files live in their native applications (i.e. presentation files are stored in Keynote), but you can’t see all of your files in one place natively on the device. However, there are several options for file management in the cloud (public or private), including Dropbox, Box, Druva, Google Drive, SharePlus (SharePoint access), and VMWare’s project Octopus (currently in beta). The problem has been around security and data leakage – particularly concerning with Dropbox. Many of the solutions, like Box, are enterprise manageable and should be encouraged (or mandated) instead of Dropbox for sensitive company documents. Presenting or demonstrating. Passing an iPad back and forth is not an ideal presentation technique, particularly for large groups. There are adapters that connect to the Apple 30 pin connection and push out VGA, HDMI, or even composite connections. These adapters work very well connecting to projectors and the iPad display can be mirrored on at television or big screen. If an Apple TV is connected to a television or projector, Apple AirPlay allows you to wirelessly mirror the iPad screen through the Apple TV on to the big screen. There are options for getting the presentation material from your iPad to the big screen, but it’s not a native capability in that it requires an adapter or Apple TV. Printing. It is possible to print wirelessly from an iPad, but it can be problematic. If the target printer is wireless, it’s pretty straightforward. But most enterprise environments have network connected print servers and printers that require the printing device to be authenticated on the domain. Apps exist that will push the print job to a PC or Mac and then to the printer, but you have to be on the same wireless network. The bottom line is that it is possible to print from an iPad in some cases, but it’s not always possible or practical on an enterprise network. The iPad won’t do it: Adobe Flash. Apple said it would not support Flash when the first iPad was released two years ago. Much discussion and debate followed, causing Steve Jobs to personally write a note to customers explaining Apple’s position. Two short years ago, the Web was Flash. But Apple made a big bet on HTML 5, and it was a good bet. Over the course of the past two years, the ubiquity of Flash is gone. YouTube even transcoded much of its library to H.264 (the video format for HTML 5), and most Websites have either converted to HTML 5, or built mobile versions without Flash. There are options, like the Skyfire browser for iOS, that will convert Flash on the fly and stream H.264 video back to the browser, but to say it’s clunky and unintuitive would be an understatement. Connect to USB peripherals. If you want to connect a USB peripheral, forget about it. There are no USB ports on an iPad, and while there are some adapters available (i.e. video adapters and an iPad docking keyboard), native USB support is out. Connect a mouse. You can’t connect a mouse to an iPad unless it is jailbroken. While Apple does support the use of some Bluetooth peripherals (including keyboards) it does not support the use of a mouse on the iPad. Transfer content to mass storage devices. Without USB ports or an SD card slot, it is not possible to move files from the iPad to a mass storage device. The exception is connecting to a PC or Mac with the Apple to USB cable to transfer photos and video. Also, files can be loaded on the devices through iTunes, but simply moving content to a USB flash drive or SD card is out. It should be noted that it is possible for enterprise IT to manage iPads. Apple has a robust Mobile Device Management (MDM) API that allows very granular management and control. Have a look at Info-Tech’s “ Vendor Landscape: Mobile Device Management Suites” for more information on MDM solutions. Let us know if you think we’ve missed anything.

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