February 11, 2013, 10:21 AM — Last year, cable television company Cablevision decided to put iPads into the hands of field service technicians in hopes of boosting sales inside customer homes. Cablevision signed on with a major carrier to manage the pilot project, which called for the configuration and distribution of 140 iPads.
Soon enough, the pilot project ran into all kinds of trouble, and Cablevision "nearly pulled the plug" on its iPad dreams, says CTO Aaron Freimark at services firm Tekserve, which helps Fortune 1000 companies adopt Apple products.
Cablevision decided to give it one more try, and Tekserve got the contract for pilot number two. This time would be different and Cablevision was ultimately able to configure 3,000 iPads. Unlike the major carrier, Tekserve had a solid track record in its favor.
For starters, Tekserve has a lot of experience with big iPad deployments, such as with OTG Management to bring iPads to airport restaurants. Freimark is also a key player in the grassroots Apple enterprise movement and knows how to get around tricky iPad configuration obstacles.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of all, Tekserve has a good relationship with Apple and can do things with, say, purchase orders that most other iPad distributors can't do.
But Tekserve still faces challenges with the configuration and distribution of iPads. A part of the problem is that Apple could do a lot more on the iPad enterprise front, says Freimark.
CIO.com sat down with Freimark at the Macworld | iWorld Expo in San Francisco earlier this month, shortly after Freimark spoke to a roomful of attendees. (Check out 15 Coolest Tech Gadgets at Macworld | iWorld Expo.)
What went wrong with the Cablevision pilot?
I don't have all the details, but I'm guessing it was too time consuming a process to configure each iPad. The results were probably really inconsistent. Carriers don't have the knowledge with Apple. The project almost died right there.
I do know what we did and the huge challenges we had to overcome. If you want to have an individually managed device, you need an Apple ID for each person. Who's creating that Apple ID?
We could have done these iPads with an institutional method-a single Apple ID for all iPads-but then they're locked down. Technicians can't have their own apps. Each iPad is personalized for each technician, which is the deployment challenge. Sure, iPads are supposed to be left in the depot and picked up when the technician gets his truck, but we know people take them home.