The iPad is one of the most impactful items of technology to ever hit the enterprise, changing the way we work and interact with data and information forever. People are bringing their personal iPads to work and demanding that IT support them instead of corporate-issue laptops.

Many organisations, including my own, have issued iPads as standard across the business. So the question of iPad suitability for the enterprise is a straight forward one to answer. But what is interesting is what can be done with the iPad that was not possible before.

Dealing with big data

There has never been as much data at an organisations’ disposal as there is in 2012. Social media especially is responsible for terabyte upon terabyte of data which can be used to make informed decisions about the strategy and future direction of a business. But managing that data can be a challenge, which is why business intelligence (BI) has never been as in demand as it is currently and with executives working more flexibly than ever before, mobile business intelligence is also on the rise.

Mobile BI is an immensely powerful tool for an organisation to have at its disposal. Instantly accessible, real-time data that a user can interact with and take action on is empowering and is revolutionising how and when business decisions are made. Although mobile BI has existed as a concept for several years now, the limitations of mobile devices meant that it was really just a watered-down version of traditional enterprise BI.

It would involve taking a report, dashboard or graph designed for a PC screen and shrinking it to fit onto a mobile handset which meant that information was hard to read and nigh-on impossible to manipulate and interact with. However, the rise of tablet PCs – and by that I mean the iPad – has meant mobile BI is now arguably even more powerful than desktop BI.

A great business device in consumer clothing

The iPad’s screen makes mobile BI data incredibly easy to read, engage and interact with. Executives want data presented in a visually compelling way and they want it in real-time. So using an iPad, especially with bespoke apps based entirely on an organisation’s own business data and processes, has enormous value to an organisation, providing decision-makers with real-time insight and analysis, and the ability to initiate actions and transactions from their device, a major breakthrough in mobile BI.

The additional functionality that comes with the new iPad – the combination of the retina display, the new A5X chip and 4G/LTE – is going to make it an even more productive business device than its predecessors. So much so, that we believe it to be a business device in consumer clothing.

Taking action

As well as the specific functionality of the device itself, the apps that are available for the iPad make it even more indispensable to the enterprise and the emergence of those bespoke iPad apps referenced earlier, means that organisations can build apps based entirely on their own data and processes.

This is a major advance in itself, and when you factor in mobile BI technology that allows iPad apps to include action-taking features, such as entering data, approving requests, adjusting forecasts, and write-back to data sources, it becomes even more compelling. All this can be done instantly within an app and without ever needing to return to a desk.

This ability for a mobile workforce to take immediate action based on analytical insight is a powerful one and a concept that Starbucks Coffee Company is already testing. Enterprise take-up of iPads will only increase and as it does, so will the use of apps that deliver such immediate value to a business.

Looking to the future

Any organisation that wants to thrive in this business landscape will need to embrace mobile BI sooner rather than later. It has the power to help keep traditional brick and mortar establishments relevant and empowers executives to make instant and informed business decisions like never before.

With such emphasis and importance placed on big data and its potential to impact upon business, not only is the iPad suitable for the enterprise but it is actually under-pinning a revolution in mobile BI and as further incarnations of the iPad add further features and functionality, so enterprise dependence on it will grow.