He’s smart. He’s handsome. But he just isn’t living up to his potential.
I refer not to your wife’s brother but to an underachiever we’ve known for only two years: the iPad in Enterprise.
Companies are struggling. They’ve spent a lot of money buying devices that delight, but at present, lack the software to deliver. It’s not their fault. If anything, it’s iOS developers and software entrepreneurs who aren’t moving quickly enough to fill the gap in the enterprise-grade tablet software market. Which is silly – because there is most certainly a market in the gap. Nevertheless, the struggle for ROI continues.
So what are the elements of an app that transform the iPad from luxury to necessity? What levers can your software pull to make the app, and therefore the tablet, indispensable?
In short, you need to leverage two or more iPad-unique features (touchscreen, bidirectionality, GPS, brilliant display, portable size, etc) and point them at a mission critical business problem.
Here’re some categories of software products that have done just this, and are crossing the chasm with enterprise users. (Hint: file sharing utilities and PDF display tools aren’t going to found below)
If the software is linked to the till – or is, in fact, the till – then drawing a dotted line between app and ROI is straightforward. Which explains the slew of B2B product ordering apps that have emerged over the past year. I refer to FatStax, Repzio and Handshake, among others. Common to all these that they replace conventional product sales methods with a system that is immediate and bi-directional. They’re not just the same old thing brought to iPad – they’re transformationally, “we’re never going back” better. Because they leverage iPad’s ability to at once display, capture and transmit content in a role that is mission critical. But for these products, many companies would not bother buying iPads.
Smartest Guy in the Room
While it’s unclear that decisions informed by real time data lead to fewer real time mistakes, the promise of mobile business intelligence is guiding enterprise to companies like MicroStrategy and QlikView. They’ve made a point to leverage the tablet’s bi-directionality and touch screen to deliver business intelligence in a way that’s immediate and interactive – making it more impactful. The touch screen and real-time data manipulation – focused a perceived need – put BI apps squarely into the “need to have” category.
I’m too sexy for…
The iPad’s ability to display content is probably it’s most powerful feature and function. To be sure, the slew of content-based iPad apps focused on consumers validates this claim. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to bring their content to the iPad. Helping them in this effort is Mag+, which takes its inspiration from magazine design and lets enterprise integrate mixed media in a linear form factor. Also: iPresent and LiquidPresentations, which leverage the tablet’s native display capability but offer a great flexibility in assembling and publishing this content. Common to all is the leveraging of the display, integration of mixed media, and a general goal of helping enterprise more effectively communicate its offering on the tablet. This space is still quite fuzzy. Naturally, I include StoryDesk in this category.
In sum, the tech + business formula for gaining traction with enterprise customers requires the intelligent marriage of two or more uniquely tablet features focused on a mission-critical business problem. Short of this, developers and entrepreneurs will face objections like, “But can’t I use my laptop for that” or “This looks cool, but is it really going to deliver ROI?”
As to your wife’s brother, I suggest getting him an iPad when he gets out of jail.
StoryDesk is an iPad sales tool that makes presentations, brochures and other marketing materials memorable and measurable.
Based in New York City, our clients include Ralph Lauren, BBC and other major companies, as well as startups and non-profits.