Businesses have aggressively embraced the iPad since its debut in 2010, but with CEOs, not IT departments, leading the charge — this according to Financial Times’ Robin Kwong. And as the proliferation of apps available on the iPad continues to rise — an estimated 60,000 were available in January, and that number’s expected to rise to 100,000 by mid-2011 — an interesting trend for field service businesses is how the enterprise has developed custom apps strictly for internal use, giving their mobile techs an array of tools to increase productivity and communication.

Kwong describes how two organizations, Pepsi Bottling Group and MicroStrategy, a business intelligence provider, used the iPad and custom apps to improve business. We’ve previously covered the push toward custom, internal apps on The SmartVan.

According to Kwong, Pepsi Bottling Group developed an iPad app for its vending machine and soda fountain service technicians, saving the company $7 million annually and increasing productivity.

In a similar effort to use the iPad more effectively, and to “go beyond communication,” MicroStrategy handed out 1,800 iPads to its employees. Sales reps use the devices to present to clients, and the company developed internal apps that allow managers to approve or deny pending requests.

On the cautionary side, Kwong quotes a mobile software exec, who says businesses must have a well-thought-out strategy before simply folding in iPads because employees enjoy using the devices. With that said, internal apps offer tremendous potential to service organizations. As Bill Pollock recently told The SmartVan about technology adoption in the service sector, ” … you can’t wait. You’re going to get chewed up, and not only by some of the larger corporations and service organizations. You’re going to start getting chewed up by organizations that are just as large and, in some cases, smaller than you because they’ve already started to do something.”

Read more about mobile field service apps on The SmartVan.

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