Lessons from a big iPad enterprise adopter

By Tom Kaneshige, CIO |  Consumerization of IT, ipad

Not all iPads supplement existing laptops. Around 3,000 iPads replace laptops for some employees, such as the field sales force, diagnostics group, and shop floor technicians who don't regularly need a laptop.

As the number of iPads grew, so did mobile apps in Genentech's custom-built enterprise iOS app store. Today, the store has a whopping 110 apps, whereas most private enterprise app stores have only a handful. Every day, Lanzi deploys new apps and retires old ones. Many are time-based or event-driven apps and naturally reach the end of their usefulness.

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Most CIOs in the early throes of an iPad rollout don't expect to have much more than a dozen enterprise apps. But Lanzi advises them to prepare for a mushrooming effect. "If you are setting up an enterprise app store today, you've got to expect it to scale to this level or greater," he warns.

Genentech couldn't buy an off-the-shelf enterprise app store because none existed at the time, and so Lanzi had to build his own. Even today, he would still choose to develop his own enterprise app store because of Genentech's specific requirements related to global user expectations.

"We're using cloud technology today for our iPhone app installer files," Lanzi explains. "That's something that none of the commercial, off-the-shelf options do in a really elegant way."

However, Genentech might be more the exception than the rule. Today's off-the-shelf offerings are pretty compelling, Lanzi says, and would be sufficient for most enterprises.

Apple App Store Sets the Standard

One of the big hurdles in iPad enterprise adoption comes from Apple itself. Apple's consumer-facing App Store has set a high bar for app usability. Simply put, iPad-toting employees expect enterprise apps to be intuitive to use. Much like consumer apps, enterprise apps also compete for time on the iPad and have to deliver functionality that people really crave.

"It's a very valuable challenge to enterprises to deliver a mobile app that has the same usability as a consumer app," Lanzi says. "We end up spending almost as much time on user experience as we do on the actual coding and testing of the app."

Companies embracing iPads will no doubt have a few app failures. Genentech had an iOS app called Coming Together that didn't quite live up to its name. It was an internal RSS aggregator that never achieved user adoption, and so Lanzi retired the app.

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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