iPads are about to pour into your business

A new survey shows business use is a major reason that employees are getting iPads -- it's not just for videos and surfing

Corporate IT, consider yourself warned: You'll be dealing with the iPad in your enterprise, whether or not you want to. And it won't just be the iPad; tablets and slates of all sorts are on their way in as well, as Android, WebOS, and Windows Compact Embedded 7 devices begin shipping in 2011. That's one of the findings from a survey of 1,100 enterprise employees polled by mobile management vendor iPass in a report released today.

According to survey results, 16.3 percent of mobile employees already have an iPad or tablet PC device, and another 33.2 percent planned to purchase or receive one in the next six months. A surprising 59.8 percent of those planned to use it for significant amounts of work, while 30.8 percent said they would use it for mostly personal reasons but also for some work. (It's a good thing that the forthcoming iOS 4 for iPad offers corporate-level security capabilities that third-party management tools can tap into.) A surprisingly small percentage said the iPad would go toward personal use only.

[ Can an iPad be used as a PC in business today? InfoWorld's Galen Gruman found out in hands-on tests. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

Here's the breakdown of intended iPad and tablet usage:

All work4.0%
Mostly work, some personal15.1%
Equal work and personal40.3%
Mostly personal, some work31.2%
All personal9.4%

Although Apple has never positioned the iPad as a work device, and it certainly has limits in business settings today, users seem to be noticing the business potential for themselves, as are some forward-thinking business and IT leaders. In my ongoing informal conversations with vendors and IT managers, I keep hearing about the fascination many have with using the iPad at work across a wide range of industries: financial services, retail, hospitals, and all manner of field forces.

A couple examples: Intercontinental Hotel Group is piloting the use of iPads by its concierges at some hotels, so they're not tethered to a computer to help guests find directions and book services. And the D7 Consulting construction firm has given its onsite managers iPads to access construction drawings and othert support materials in the field.

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