Why IT departments need to take Apple seriously

One of the many achievements you can attribute to Apple is the ability to make outdated or bog-standard technology functionality newsworthy.

Only Steve Jobs could create headlines the world over when rumours started to spread last week that the next version of the iPad might include – wait for it – a camera!

Imagine the scorn poured on Nokia or Microsoft if they failed to include a feature that most people take for granted in a mobile phone you could get for nothing.

But increasingly Apple exists in a world with different rules to the rest. And that is a reason why IT managers can’t ignore the change in expectations that Apple products create among corporate technology users.

In 2001, Bill Gates – a man who knows a thing or two about computers – predicted that within five years the tablet computer would be the best-selling form of PC. “The tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available whenever you want it. It’s a PC that is virtually without limits,” he said.

And did tablets change the world? Well, not yet. But the iPad is generating demand from business IT users for what they suddenly see as an exciting and potentially useful form of device (even if it doesn’t have a camera).

Apple’s latest product is making people think about how such a portable, easy-to-use computer could help or improve the way they work, in a way that Gates completely failed to do. Perhaps Bill should have worn black polo-neck sweaters more often.

There are a growing number of firms evaluating iPads for corporate use, but many will find the limitations of using a device designed for a closed Apple ecosystem – hence the expected rush of Windows and Android-based alternatives likely to be released over the coming months.

Of course, IT departments would be seriously chastised were they to deliver systems that omitted basic functionality on the promise of future improvements. But the buzz being created by the likes of Apple creates an opportunity to discuss new ways of working with users to meet their changing expectations.