November 18, 2010, 5:17 PM — In the next few months, Jeff Letasse, vice president of IT for Conceptus, will hand out more than 220 iPads to every salesperson in the company. He plans to wean them off of their trusty laptops and PDAs, with the hope of never having to buy another laptop for a salesperson again.
The dam holding back consumer devices in the enterprise "has broken wide open," Letasse says.
Soon, salespeople for Conceptus, a Silicon Valley medical manufacturer of a non-invasive, permanent female sterilization device called Essure, will be able to show glitzy presentations to doctors on the iPad. They'll be able to fire up a custom enterprise iPad app that taps into a back-end CRM system. Further down the road, a Citrix iPad app may let sales staff access a Windows desktop in a virtualized environment.
When iPads first arrived at Apple Stores seven months ago, analysts predicted a few of these new-fangled entertainment gadgets might find their way inside companies. No one saw the sudden spike in enterprise adoption, not even Apple.
Today more than 65% of Fortune 500 companies are deploying or piloting the iPad, Apple said during its most recent earnings call. "We haven't pushed it real hard in business, and it's being grabbed out of our hands," says Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
A recent Gartner report advises CEOs to get their IT departments on board with the iPad and prepare for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011. Even marketing teams should come up with creative briefings as soon as possible that show how iPads could be used for competitive advantage.
Apparently, the marketing department at Conceptus got the Gartner memo. Marketing wanted to put all its sales collateral on the iPad, which, in turn, sparked a sweeping iPad project. "Our long-term goal is really to move away from laptops and home computers for our field sales force," says Eric Simmons, director of IT operations and ERP solutions at Conceptus. "This means they have to be able to do everything on their iPad."
Why such a dramatic move to the iPad?