Apple iPad enterprise business support? Good luck

With CEOs and employees using the iPad for business, Apple should step up and offer enterprise service and support or face a lost opportunity

CEOs may be pushing for greater adoption of the Apple iPad in many businesses, but IT departments should get used to the idea that enterprise-level support from Apple is a long way off, according to Gartner.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia Gartner vice president Robin Simpson said while numerous enterprises were adopting the iPad for business use, Apple’s did not view itself as an enterprise vendor.

“I’ve lost count of the number of enquiries from very large multinational corporations who see value in supporting the iPad, and want to be able to roll out large numbers to people in branch offices around the world, but Apple has no mechanism to support that these days,” he said.

“The only mechanism is to ring up Apple offices in each country in which you want to supply these things and talk to them. If you are a multinational, and you are in 20 countries that is not a very satisfactory answer.

“The thing that they probably won’t ever do, which enterprises probably want them to do, is some kind of special level enterprise support, but I don’t think that is in their DNA.”

In the short term, the implication for IT departments was that they would need to “get over” the lack of enterprise-level support and figure out ways in which to minimise the impact on their own resources.

Simpson did acknowledged that Apple did offer an online guide for enterprises, IT departments were still, essentially, left to fend for themselves.

“IT is once again the meat in the sandwich here,” he said. “[executives] are pushing from on top to use these devices, as are employees from below… so those organisations have to respond, to stay sane, through creating their own internal resources.”

Despite this, Apple could, with relative ease, address enterprise needs with a number of minor tweaks to its global supply chain and systems, Simpson argued.

“From a consumer point off view, Apple has the most unbelievably efficient supply chain of any vendor I know of in its ability to create something in the factory and customise it… then ship it direct to the customer… now why can’t they scale that up to support enterprise?” he said.

“There is a custom version of the Apple store for each country but under the hood it is all the same ERP system and all that really differs is slight difference sin product ranges and the local prices.

“Apple could easily create an enterprise ordering portal where an enterprise purchasing officer just signs in, enters in the products they want and where they want them… and gets a single invoice. It is an opportunity which Apple is missing.”

Simpson added that in the absence of enterprise level support from Apple there was an opportunity for global systems integrators to step in and fill the void.

Already, on the iPad applications side at least, companies, such as UXC, are stepping up to offer integration services to deliver Web interfaces, remote desktop, and customised application interfaces over the iPad, and related devices such as the iPhone.

Apple Australia declined to comment for this story with a spokesperson stating that Apple did not comment on its business processes.

Apple iPad hands-on slideshow


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