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Why Office for iPad may cause enterprise pain

ClearBox Consulting > Digital Workplace  > Why Office for iPad may cause enterprise pain

Why Office for iPad may cause enterprise pain

Office for iPad is definitely a welcome development, but companies taking an on-premises only stance around their SharePoint deployments may find it is another thorn in their side.

Here’s the scenario: your managers love their iPads. They’ve seen the execs carry them everywhere so now everyone seems to be propping them up in meetings. Office for iPad sounds like the last piece of the puzzle that allows them to stop carrying the laptop too, because now they can work on their documents and spreadsheets. But there’s a catch, you can’t edit without an Office 365 subscription.

If your company has an Enterprise O365 set-up that’s fine, but in the SharePoint world what we hear is that the majority of companies don’t yet have this, and some are saying ‘never’.

So what do the iPad owners do? They click the prominent button saying ‘Buy Office 365 Home’, it’s only a few £/€/$ a month, so it’ll easily slip by on expenses.

Now they’re up and running, but they’re using a consumer version of OneDrive. If you’ve deployed OneDrive for Business, it is inevitable that at some point confusion will arise. Cue calls to the helpdesk saying ‘all my files have gone’ and ad-hoc invitations to share documents with colleagues leading to version proliferation.

What’s happening is that Microsoft is driving this from the consumer side of iOS, pushing BYOS (Bring Your Own Service) on top of BYOD in the enterprise. As we said in our Digital Workplace Manifesto, BYOD can be great (‘4. The digital workplace should be a pleasure to use. If it’s not as good as my digital home life, let me bring in my own devices’), but the caveat is that we still need to collaborate (‘5. Collaboration only works if we do it the same way. The best tool is the one we all use, otherwise we create digital divides to match physical ones.’). This doesn’t mean it has to be with exactly the same tool, but tools do have to talk to each other.

Mary-Jane Foley has argued that Microsoft is doing this with the Enterprise prize in mind and I’m sure they are, but it creates yet more painful pressure to abandon the on-premises stance, and more confusion in the short-term – just the kind of confusion that an on-premises mindset seeks to avoid by keeping control of the architecture.

Is there any consolation? Quite possibly: companies that take a strictly on-premises policy probably don’t allow BYOD either.

Office for iPad

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

2 Comments
  • Posted at 10:44 am, 11 August, 2014

    Hi Sam,

    I have to say I see things differently. The UK and Australia markets are different, of course. But over here, pretty much every company that has any kind of decent investment in the Microsoft stack is renewing their enterprise agreements and going all in on Office365.

    One major FinServ company has negotiated 10+ device limits per employee per single O365 license, meaning employees can get Office fr work, home computer(s), iPad, iPhone, Android etc for free. It’s become a perk which is somewhat bizarre. (This may be common but was the largest quota I’d heard to date.)

    I have been surprised at the level of take up but Microsoft are pushing it very hard and it seems to be working.

    Yammer is part of the majority of EAs as well, so we’re seeing massive momentum around that. Once Microsoft opens the AU Azure datacentre, all the pieces of the puzzle will be complete.

    Actually exciting times. 🙂

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