Prior to the launch of the new iPad, use of Apple’s tablet device was primarily being used as an internet access and entertainment device.

According to research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), just 13% of iPad owners were using their iPads for business owners. But that may be changing.

A new survey conducted by CIRP finds that between December of last year and April of this year, use of the iPad for business purposes jumped significantly, with 21% of new iPad owners indicating that they’ll be using their new slate for business.

AllThingsDigital’s John Paczkowski suggests

With its Retina screen and 4G connection, the third-generation iPad is viewed as more suitable for business use. But that’s secondary to the more obvious explanation: Enterprise has warmed to the idea of the iPad as a standard-issue business sidearm.

He notes that as of April 2012, 94% of Fortune 500 companies were experimenting with or actively deploying the iPad.

The numbers make it clear: the iPad’s future in the enterprise may be very bright. But Apple will increasingly have to fight to grow and maintain the iPad’s role in companies.

Microsoft’s Windows 8, which is touch-oriented and designed to move Microsoft into the tablet space in a big way, is coming in October and the Redmond software giant has a formidable weapon in Office, the ubiquitous productivity suite used by countless businesses. It’s no surprise that Microsoft is gearing up to use Office in an effort to drive Windows 8 adoption.

The good news for Apple is that it has been paying attention to the enterprise more recently, and thanks to the consumerization of IT, would-be competitors like Microsoft may increasingly have to win over consumers before they can win over IT departments, something that will often give Apple devices a significant leg up.