Throughout the last few days, talk around the water cooler has been about the new Apple iPad 2: its sleek, thinner design. Its front and back cameras. Its faster processing speed. As I was checking it out on the Apple website, there was something else new, at least something that I never noticed before: a whole section of the site dedicated to iPads for businesses. The section talks about seamless integration with enterprise-level software, email, calendars and apps designed specifically for the business professional. As I was reading, it got me thinking. What is the iPad’s future in the business world? In fact, what is the future of any tablet PC within a corporate organization?

We know consumers are buying

Apple has shipped nearly 15 million iPads in just nine months. According to Forrester Research’s projectors, more than 24 million tablets will be sold to US consumers in 2011, at least 20 million will be iPads. Will this trend carry over to the corporate world?

Yes, Businesses are buying, too

It seems as though businesses are following the same trend. During a conference call with investors and analysts in January, Apple claimed that more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies were using or testing the iPad. The New York Times states that companies as diverse as General Electric, Wells Fargo, Mercedes-Benz and Medtronic are using iPads in their offices.

In an interview with The New York Times, Ted Schadler, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research, said he expected that tens of millions of tablets would be in use by corporate America by 2015. According to Schadler, “this will be the fastest uptake of any device in the enterprise ever. Faster than PCs, faster than laptops and faster than smartphones.”

The business case for tablets

Tablets are small, cheap and easy to use. Tablets can easily be transported, used on the manufacturing floor and carried between meetings. Tablets have enough storage space for most important documents and business applications can be custom developed for nearly any industry need. If this isn’t enough, there are virtual PC applications that will allow a user to login and use their desktop PC directly from their iPad.The numbers don’t lie. Again from The New York Times, “the software maker said its Chatter iPad app, which lets users gain access to data from corporate software programs, had been downloaded more than a million times. Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, said Chatter was being used in more than 60,000 businesses.”

The future of iPads and tablets in the workplace

Understanding how businesses are using tablets such as the iPad in the workplace will be essential to any business strategy. Mobile application development will become increasingly important. Having the ability to effectively integrate these applications into business processes will be a critical competitive advantage, improving efficiency and quality assurance. With these advances comes the need for additional training and orientation. Knowing how to deliver corporate training modules on any mobile device will also become increasingly important.

For a leading medical equipment company, JPL’s learning solutions team is creating an iPad app that will both train sales reps and support them in sales presentations to prospective customers. JPL’s digital marketing consultants are also helping clients implement mobile solutions that build customer loyalty and improve business processes.

A corporate world full of iPads

I, for one, am excited for the future and I believe that the future is a corporate world full of tablet PCs and iPads. Does your organization use them? Please share your thoughts. I’m curious to see others experiences. Until then maybe I’ll try to convince Luke and Serena to get me an iPad 2… For business of course. 🙂

Related Blog Post: iPads Make Smarter Salespeople by JPL President Luke Kempski