11 July 2011

Trials of iPad Enterprise Adoption

Earlier this year, New York-based law firm Proskauer completed a massive technology redesign that would make Silicon Valley tech companies gush with envy. At the heart of the redesign was the Apple (AAPL) iPad 2.

"I'm pretty sure we were the first, if not only major law firm, to do it," says COO Arthur Gurwitz. "I think it was important to be first with the iPad. I call it brand enhancement."

But behind the "brand enhancement" and despite the elegant simplicity of the iPad, Proskauer's IS department was faced with a great many difficult choices. In other words, iPad enterprise adoption is anything but easy.

At law firms, the technology spend ranks as the third largest line item behind people and office space. Its place on the budget sheet, though, is well justified: Lawyers rely heavily on computers to deliver services that are at the core of a law firm's business. All of this underscores the huge risk Proskauer took to adopt the new-fangled iPad as a lawyer's go-to computer.

Today, more than 500 Proskauer lawyers use iPads to create super-slick PowerPoint slides, Excel Spreadsheets filled with sky-high figures, and wordy Word documents. Lawyers pass this electronic paperwork back and forth among clients. They even present information on their iPads to judges.

Proskauer is part of the latest procession of companies contributing to the rapid rise of the iPad in the enterprise. During its most recent earnings call, Apple claimed three out of four of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying iPads. Indeed, iPads have been found on the job at some of the most unusual places.

Despite the high adoption rate, CIOs still lack a good guide for bringing in iPads. Like Proskauer, many companies must learn as they go. "Rolling out the iPad actually turned out to be quite a significant investment in time, much more than I would have thought," says Steven Kayman, senior litigation partner and chair of the technology committee at Proskauer.

"There's just a hundred decisions that have to be made along the way," he says.
All Rise, Decision Time

Two years ago, Proskauer executives considered arming its lawyers with new laptops but postponed the big tech purchase. Gurwitz sensed a major shift was underway with the iPad and wanted to get ahead of it.

It's important for Proskauer to have the latest technology, says Gurwitz. After all, many of the firm's clients are tech-savvy companies in the entertainment industry, cable and broadcast, and technology industries, many served by Prokauer's large patent group. "We want to be able to think like they think so we can serve them better," he says. 

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