Spurred by enthusiastic senior executives and rank-and-file employees, companies are starting to roll out iPads in the enterprise, especially for board meetings and sales staff. New security features from Apple and additional security and management tools from third-party vendors are boosting that effort, but companies are wary of employees' using their own iPads and putting sensitive customer data on the devices.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that "employee demand for iPad in the corporate environment remains strong," at the company's quarterly earnings call on Jan. 18. "Enterprise CIOs are adding iPad to their approved device list at an amazing rate," Oppenheimer said. "Today, over 80% of the Fortune 100 are already deploying or piloting iPad, up from 65% in the September quarter. Some recent examples include JPMorgan Chase, Cardinal Health, Wells Fargo, Archer Daniels Midland, Sears Holdings and DuPont."
By using virtual desktops from providers like Citrix, companies can give their iPads the same functionality as a desktop or laptop--and with enterprise-grade security.
Other virtual desktop vendors are rolling out iPad apps. The VMware View Client for iPad came out on March 9, Quest released its Workspace iPad app in December and 2X Software Ltd. released its iPad client app in January.
Nancye Wolfe, CFO of Alabama-based Precision IBC, recently bought 10 iPads for the large liquid container rental company's traveling staff and sales people. Each iPad has Citrix Client pre-installed, which allows each device to connect to all of the company's software applications--the ERP and customer relationship management systems, Microsoft Office and anything else the employees need to use. The device also connects to Microsoft Exchange and Skype.
Wolfe bought the 16-gig iPads with WiFi and 3G, and even with warranties and cases, they were still much less expensive than laptops, she says.
Staff members love the portability and ease of use, Wolfe adds. "They can just click it and check their e-mails. With the laptops, you had to worry about connections, but with the 3G, they can be out in the middle of the Oklahoma oil fields and still be connected."
All documents are stored centrally and accessed through Citrix Client, so there are no financial reports or customer records stored on the iPad itself. "There's nothing there," Wolfe says. "Nobody's carrying around HR information any more. If the iPad is stolen, they just have their music and games and apps."
The devices themselves can be password-protected, and Citrix Client also requires a login and password. In addition, individual applications such as accounting software have their own user IDs and passwords, providing a third level of security for the most sensitive data.
"The iPad's been a real hit," Wolfe says. "Some of our users use the iPad exclusively. My boss, the president of the company, walks around the building with his iPad. We've never had this level of connectivity before."
Even banks are rolling out iPads--starting in their boardrooms. Since the devices never leave the premises, there is less worry about confidential data being stolen or misplaced. Moreover, documents can be loaded onto the devices prior to meetings, then erased immediately afterward, for additional security.
North Jersey Community Bank's chairman and CEO, Frank Sorrentino III, recently bought two dozen iPads for the board and senior executives of the Englewood Cliffs-based financial firm, primarily to save paper during board meetings.
"Our board package is anywhere from 200 to 300 pages," Sorrentino says. "And 11 people attend the board meetings." In addition, "it's an enormous amount of work to get that package put together and indexed," he says.
The iPads turn on instantly, and their lightweight tablet form makes it easy to pass them around or lay them flat and point to key items on the screen.
"The board members actually like it. They can move around, look at things, make things bigger or smaller--it makes the board meetings a little easier," Sorrentino says.
The iPads are also used at the bank's loan committee meetings, replacing loan application packages of 100 to 150 pages each. "It's made the management team more efficient," he says.
The documents presented at these board meetings contain highly sensitive information, so the bank's iPads were deployed with Apple's Enterprise iPhone configuration utility. The device control and configuration components implemented by the bank include passcode policies, device restrictions and data encryption.
Board packets are loaded onto the devices prior to meetings, and when the meetings are over, the devices are wiped clean, Sorrentino says. While the information is on the iPads, it's in encrypted form, he adds.
Saving paper at board meetings also pushed San Francisco-based Union Bank to start using iPads.
"About three months ago, we were approached by our corporate secretary, who wanted to get all the board materials via iPad," says Rob Walters, the bank's senior vice president of distributed computing services. "We had been looking at iPads for e-mails and calendaring, and started to get those kinds of requests as soon as they shipped, but there was no real business driver for it. It was just something we were looking at. But when the corporate secretary came to us, that kind of pushed us over the edge."
The bank first used iPads at the November board meeting, and soon board committees were demanding the devices as well. "And that meant that internal executives needed iPads to present," Walters says.
The bank bought 20 iPads and also set up another 100 devices within the past three months that are owned by employees.
To secure the devices, the bank decided to use mobile security vendor Good Technology.
"All sensitive data on the device is encrypted," Walters says.
Like Precision IBC, Union Bank is using Citrix to allow the iPads to access bank back-end systems. "We've got a pilot program right now," Walters says.
At Mountain America Credit Union, a 1,000-employee institution in Utah, Citrix is also the key to allowing the iPads to be used to access sensitive applications. All of the credit union's board members got iPads last fall as a gift from the CEO.
"We can launch Word, browser all our documents and edit them from the iPad--it's really the Citrix piece that makes it a full business device," says chief information officer Alex Barker. "We can do almost anything that we can on a laptop."
Since all the Citrix traffic is encrypted, and the documents live on the corporate server, it's a secure solution. "The executive team has been very happy with them," Barker says.
But employees who bring in personal iPads are limited to accessing company e-mail through ActiveSync. "That's about as far as the support goes," Barker says. "We're not allowing them to get onto our WiFi or our local area network. But we don't forbid them from being in the building with them."
North Jersey Community Bank is also using iPads to show presentations to clients.
"Instead of printing some super high-glossy presentation and leaving it behind, we're now doing it on the iPad," Sorrentino says. "We're really trying to get away from paper. Our entire loan system is going to go entirely paperless over the next three to four months, and I think the iPad is going to play an even bigger role."
In general, marketing materials are less sensitive than other types of data, and banks are more comfortable allowing employees to go on the road with iPads filled with presentations and other sales documents.
"Imagine if you have to go to work each day with a 30-pound bag of stuff," says Dennis DiTullio, sales development coordinator at Boston-based John Hancock Funds.
About 100 John Hancock employees who spend their time on the road have had to carry a bag laden with a laptop and stacks of sales documents. A month ago, they all got iPads. All marketing documents are pre-loaded on the devices, and new documents are sent out by e-mail. And so far, the response has been enthusiastic.
"They love it," DiTullio says. "The whole selling force just loves it. We've been doing conference calls with them this past week, and they love the fact that there isn't a 30- to 35-pound bag hanging over their shoulders eight to nine hours a day."
The iPads John Hancock picked have both WiFi and 3G connectivity, and are managed with Mountain View, Calif.-based mobile management vendor MobileIron.
"It helps us keep track of the usage of the documents, and it also helps from a loss prevention standpoint," DiTullio says. "If the device is lost, it can wipe the iPad remotely."
But customer relationship management--which involves potentially sensitive customer information--is a different story.
John Hancock isn't ready yet to use iPads for CRM, DiTullio says. The company's CRM system is from San Rafael, Calif.-based MARS, which is available through a Web browser.
"The Web-based system is not compatible with the [iPad's] Safari browser," DiTullio says. "We're waiting for a native app. It is something we would love to do in the near future, but we're not there yet."
The world's biggest Web-based CRM provider--Salesforce.com--does have a native app for the iPad and also can be accessed via the built-in Safari browser.
The iPad includes hardware-based encryption, which makes the device secure enough to access such sensitive applications. However, employees who want to download customer data to the device need extra protection.
For users who must store data on the iPad itself--for example, if they're flying to Asia and plan to use the time in the air to get some work done--there are third-party services such as that of Australia-based RhoLogic that allow data to be downloaded onto the iPad and stored in encrypted form.
In addition to MobileIron and RhoLogic, other vendors that provide security and management for iPads include Good Technology and BoxTone.
BoxTone, for example, manages 800,000 mobile devices for customers like Barclays, Lincoln Financial, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and many non-financial firms.
The vast majority of these customers use BlackBerries, says Brian Reed, BoxTone's vice president of products and chief marketing officer. "The BlackBerry will always be the pinnacle of hard-core security," Reed says.
But Apple devices gained significant ground last summer when the company released the iOS 4, which adds significant security and management features to its iPhone and iPads.
"You can now have a secure device," Reed says. Vendors like BoxTone are able to offer remote device management, lock down devices and even remotely deploy applications.
And the enterprise rush to the iPad began. As a result, 60% of BoxTone's customers either plan to deploy an Apple mobile device within the next eight to nine months or already have, with the iPad the primary focus, Reed says.
Companies that don't provide iPads need to set up policies for iPads in the enterprise, or they may be opening themselves up to some security problems if employees sneak in the devices anyway. And many use it to keep track of news, market data and portfolios, and to make presentations to clients.
"Everyone likes it, it's a nifty little device," says one self-described Apple junkie who works for an investment bank and should be using only the technology at his office desk. "It's a nifty way to display PDFs."
He is not alone. According to a recent study by Citrix Systems, 67% of employees bring personal devices such as smartphones and iPads to work.
For a look at operating in the cloud and the risks involved, see Cloud Computing Rolls In.