Book Review | iPad in the Enterprise by Nathan Clevenger

Shahab Choudhry | August 31, 2011 | In the News

iPad in the Enterprise by Nathan Clevenger – Review

iPad in the Enterprise Book

I first saw a review of Nathan Clevenger’s book iPad in the Enterprise, on ReadWriteWeb in the Enterprise area.  Having read the pre-release review  I got the book shortly after it was released.  Given the inroads that the iPad is making in the Enterprise, the book is very timely and the content serves as a good commentary on many aspects related to the adoption of the iPad for Enterprise use.

  • The book is organized into five parts: Strategy, Architecture, Design, Development and Deployment.  This organization works very well to cover the content of this book.
  •  iPad in the Enterprise is written with a broad set of enterprise readers in mind – IT and non IT executives, architects as well as developers.  Different parts are focused on different types of readers and as such each part is fully contained and can be read on its own.
  • The enterprise focus is maintained well throughout the book, except for a couple of areas where the treatment of the content does not quite do justice to the enterprise focus.

 Here I provide my thoughts on this book.

 Part I – Strategy

This section covers the industry landscape, the drivers behind the consumerization of IT and some other good ideas related to the development of a good strategy for using the iPad in the Enterprise.

I think the section provides excellent background that helps the reader understand the evolution of the iPad as well as the factors behind the incredible market share that it has achieved and draws some parallels to other phenomenon that we have seen and observed related to transformative technologies.  As the discussion transitions from the evolution of the iPad to focus on the components that make up a good enterprise iPad strategy, again all aspects are well thought through and very well presented.  Clevenger does a great job of outlining the challenges associated with each one of these aspects of the iPad strategy.  Ideas like the consumerization of IT which I have followed with interest and wrote about in my blog post, are covered with a lot of good background.  There is a set of chapters in this part of the book that focus on the application roadmap.  There is also rather long section that examines the various uses of the iPad in different functions within the Enterprise as well as the use within various vertical markets.  I found the discussion about the application roadmap to be very well organized along with good thoughts on how the application portfolio can be organized.  However, the application level discussion related to the use in vertical markets missed the mark for me.  The vertical market use cases are lacking in detail and sound too academic.  In some ways it left me searching for more in depth discussion.

Part II – Architecture

Given the enterprise focus of this book, the part on architecture is very important and good to see that it is discussed very early on in this book.  The book covers important topics such as the build vs. buy decision, the different types of iPad application architectures and an extensive discussion regarding integration with enterprise data and other enterprise integration services.  I found the chapter on build vs. buy to be lacking in several ways.  This chapter presents a collection of iPad applications that are available and can be included in a build vs. buy discussion.  It includes screen shots of several applications.  Instead I would have liked a more detailed discussion about the considerations that go into decision making.

Additionally, several of the applications that are discussed should not be considered Enterprise applications.  Instead these screen shots are what I would call business productivity tools such as document readers, image capture and manipulation tools etc.

The chapter on the types of application architecture choices is excellent.  It covers not only the various different types of architecture but goes into a great deal of depth on each of these choices.  Additionally, the discussion stays in the domain of the enterprise and is therefore extremely relevant and in line with the focus of the book.  Considerations such as data security, flexibility, user experience, connectivity and interfacing with enterprise data are covered in enough detail to truly help in understanding these critical architecture options.  It answers some questions that make you scratch your head.  Since this is an area of great interest, and has been a topic of few blog posts by me and my colleagues (Apps vs. Web,) I found it of great interest.  I also thought that the pros and cons of each approach were laid out in great detail and were an excellent read.  The last piece of this part covers integration and is more technical than the rest of the discussion on architecture but understandable so.  This chapter focuses on data structures, web services and connectivity models and the impact of these considerations on the architecture.  This chapter is well organized and while these aspects need to be examined in more detail, the content here is very well organized and laid out.

Part III – Design

This part of the book combines the nuances of iPad specific application design with enterprise specific considerations and does a great job in covering it effectively. It addresses some very important user experience considerations.  The content includes discussion about Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines and how to best use them in an Enterprise context.  There is a chapter about specific techniques that can be used in the design process in the User Experience Prototyping stages.  While the book is not intended as a guideline for UX experts, the content covered here touches on some critical aspects in enough detail to serve as an excellent starting point.  The last chapter in this part of the book focuses on planning the development processes and several development methodologies and their impact on the design process.  Again, the content is very relevant and covers this topic at the appropriate level of detail.

Part IV – Development

This part of the book is intended for application developers and as such my review of the content is associated with the caveat that while I am technologist, I am not a iOS developer.  Having said that, I found that the content was very relevant and discussed in a way that makes it easy to understand. I also found that while the actual code snippets were of little interest to me, the idea they were presenting was very relevant.  A non-technical reader will find the content in this section very well organized.

Part V – Deployment

The chapters in this part of the book cover the aspects of deploying applications on the iPad as well as the deployment of the devices.  This is an area that I find to be of concern to CIOs and I found the discussion to be well organized and well written.  The chapter that discusses some of the peripherals and accessories seems out of place by virtue of the fact that this is the first mention of these as part of the planning process.  These should have been considered in earlier sections and a more vertical focused industry specific discussion of these accessories would have been more relevant.

The discussion about the logistics and the ongoing support considerations is very well executed.  It even goes into specifics of post roll out considerations such as acceptable use policies, remote wipe and the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) to address corporate risk considerations.  The content is very well organized and Clevenger deserves credit for pulling all of these components together.

Bottom Line:

  • Very relevant and timely for the enterprise reader
  • The overall organization is great and makes it easy to follow
  • The content is excellent in some areas and shows that the author went to great lengths to research the topic, and get perspectives from thought leaders
  • Except for a couple of sections, the enterprise focus is maintained well throughout the book
  • I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is in any way connected with developing iPad specific strategies and applications for the enterprise

Shahab Choudhry

Shahab is a visionary thought leader and builder of successful companies that has been at the forefront of trying to make sense of the various technology shifts in the past two decades. He has advised several startups, early stage companies and Fortune 500 companies in making the most of these technology shifts. His focus has been on new products and platforms for the enterprise. His track record as a builder of companies includes IPOs, successful acquisitions as well as a failed startup. Shahab can be reached at shahab.choudhry@propelics.com or on twitter at @shahabchoudhry.

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