New generation tablets are being adopted en masse by enterprises, despite the lack of any support infrastructure from the manufacturers. Many enterprise users, and IT groups, are making determined efforts to secure and manage tablets with whatever tools are available.
We talked with IT pros and executives from three companies that have deployed tablets:
Bayada Nurses, a Moorestown, N. J. company that provides nursing and other home-based healthcare services. It has 14,000 nurses, aids, therapists, social workers, based in 52 branch offices in 20 states. It has rolled out 2,000 Android-based, 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tabs so far;
Main application: Homecare Homebase (HCHB), a Web-based app for managing and reporting on home-delivered services to patients.
Hawthorn Pharmaceuticals, a Madison, Miss., specialty pharmaceutical company founded in 1998. Of 160 employees, 120 are sales staff. It has rolled out the Apple iPad, replacing discontinued HP iPaq PDAs running Windows Mobile.
The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, which has 3,000 iPads deployed to doctors, interns and pharmacists.
Main applications: custom-built apps, one for electronic ordering by doctors of lab tests, medical imaging, medication; another for electronic patient health record; MobileIron, for iOS device management.
1. How to get tablet apps your end users need?
All three of the deployments here were at least initially built around one mission-critical application.
Bayada was actually piloting a Windows Phone-based version of the HCHB application (which requires an on-device database), when the vendor introduced the Android tablet version. Bayada quickly shifted to the tablet. "When we went live on the [larger-screened] tablets, the training time, the user satisfaction, the whole mood [of our employees] was totally different," says David Baiada, division director and practice leader for Bayada's Skilled Visit Services.
When Hawthorn Pharmaceuticals discovered that iPoint was being ported to Apple iOS, the company asked the software vendor to speed up development. "We were maxed out on the iPaq," says Clay Hilton, director of information technology. "We wanted to do more. We wanted to gather additional data."
Ottawa Hospital, a very early adopter of the original iPad, was ahead of its software vendors. It turned to outside software development shops, through an RFP process. CIO Dale Potter insisted that the developer provide a full-time ergonomics expert for the application design process, so that the app's screen flows matched and mirrored the workflows of end users. The hospital also made the decision to invest heavily in internal iOS development: there are now close to 70 programmers.
"Cross-platform development is an expensive proposition," says Greg Jenko, executive director, mobility services for Accenture, the big IT consultancy and systems integrator. "CIOs with BlackBerries, Androids, and iPhones are not going to invest in developing for all three. They'll pick one. The iPad is the one today."
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