iPad in the Enterprise

Yesterday I finally received and read iPad in the Enterprise that I had pre-ordered a while ago.

If you’re involved in enterprise mobile whether it’s C-level strategy or implementation for a business unit, this book is worth a read. In truth, this book is really two books in one. The first seven or eight chapters are written for the CIO. The author, Nathan Clevenger, writes about the evolution of iOS and how enterprise IT has influenced it, the “consumerization” of IT, developing an enterprise mobile strategy, build vs. buy, etc. You can tell Clevenger interviewed a lot of people for the book and covers a lot of ground in these first chapters without diving too deep.

One of my favorite bits in the first chapters is Clevenger recounting an interview with Geoffrey Moore (of Crossing the Chasm fame) about how the technology adoption curve he theorized is affected by the consumerization of IT generally and the the iPad specifically. The response (which I think could be expounded into an entire book itself) was that it blows up the curve. The whole idea of early adopter and mainstream and laggards goes away with things like the iPad because it is so intuitive and easy to use. Grandmothers (traditional laggards) and nerds (early adopters) are adopting the iPad at the same time.

Not surprisingly, the biggest take-away of the strategy chapters of iPad in the Enterprise is defining and understanding the business metric(s) you want to improve and then working to build a team and plan to achieve that. Technology for the sake of technology is to be avoided.

On the topic of build versus buy, Clevenger offers a strategy of see-if-you-can-buy-before-you-build. There are probably 50 pages of the book dedicated to a review of dozens of applications that address various enterprise problems (from content management, to communication, to sales automation). With hundreds of thousands of apps in the app store, it’s hard to find fault with the advice of buy before you build. On the flip side, Clevenger points out that the apps themselves can be a small fraction of the overall cost (if you integrate with internal enterprise systems). This is not a warning, but rather a reminder to consider the total costs…a topic that I want to address in more detail in a future post.

In the second half of the book, Clevenger and his co-authors dive into the details of iPad application design and deployment. He touches on the entire development process from initial UI design through build, test and deploy. Probably the most important bit is the focus on what Apple has already defined in their Human Interface Guidelines. To understand design for iOS you really need to start with Apple’s HIG. Clevenger spills much ink on this topic, all of it warranted.

Then this is where the book gets into the weeds…to the point where there are pages with sample code. While it might be worth a CIO skimming these latter chapters, they’re really written for the IT professional and product managers implementing or considering implementing iPad applications in their company. There are many real design nuggets…one of my favorite is on the topic of data security and how to avoid users “capturing” data using the native screen capture functionality (hint: you can’t turn it off, but you can thwart it).

So all-in-all, iPad in the Enterprise is a well written, timely and informational book which we recommend.