Why You Need to Take Tablets Seriously

Six months ago, Microsoft gave its imprimatur to the tablet craze by introducing Surface™  and making a rare foray into hardware manufacturing.  Does the endorsement of the enterprise software leader mean that tablets are here to stay as an enterprise tool?

Yes—but Microsoft’s entry just adds to the momentum.  Tablets for business use have taken off. The form factor, the easy swipe and flick interface plus the rise of more cloud-based services are all coming together to drive the tablet juggernaut.

Forrester predicts sales of 375 million tablets in 2016 with business users accounting for a third of all purchases. (http://blogs.forrester.com/frank_gillett/12-04-23-why_tablets_will_become_our_primary_computing_device) Already, according to Forrester, about 25% of computers used for work globally are tablets and smartphones, not PCs.  In December 2010, a survey by Citrix found that 13 percent of respondents already considered the iPad “mission critical” for their jobs, and an overwhelming majority said their organization grants them access to corporate resources on the device. The software company SAP AG has distributed about 14,000 tablets and plenty of other businesses are following suit.

Tablets are cannibalizing the PC’s domain. When the only option was a PC, you used a PC for everything. Tablets are simply better for some things:

  • Quickly accessing information
  • Entering very limited amounts of data (e.g., complete service orders )
  • Routing data
  • Delivering presentations
  • Working in groups—sharing information
  • Sharing information, such as with a colleague or a shopper on a storeroom floor
  • Conducting videoconferences and online meetings with remote workers and road warriors

Many enterprise vendors have begun to offer tablet versions of their software. Brand names like SAP, Oracle, salesforce.com and MicroStrategy are just a sampling of the vendors now openly offering iPad versions of their solutions.

Vertical markets are also playing a large role is embracing tablets.  Adobe Digital Marketing Insights found that tablet users spend over 50 percent more for each transaction at an online retailer compared to smartphone users and 20 percent more than traditional computer users.  (http://success.adobe.com/assets/en/downloads/whitepaper/13926_digital_marketing_insights.pdf)

Health care is another example. In the highly mobile hospital environment, information is shared faster and people stay in touch more easily. Practitioners with an application on their tablets can more easily and quickly handle alerts, test result notifications and stat requests. They can instantly see who is available at any time and contact them.

Finally, demographic changes are behind the shift to tablets. For digital natives – just now entering the workforce – using a tablet for many tasks just makes sense.

Analyses of early adopters of iPads in business show a shift in usage patterns. For example, according to Gartner (http://www.gartner.com/id=1724634), a large sales force that deployed iPads discovered that people were spending 20% more computing time total per day when they used a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop than if they were using a smartphone and laptop alone. Laptops were relegated to less-frequent (but longer) sessions, and users were reaching for tablets frequently throughout the day.

The transition to tablets in the enterprise is not without its speed bumps. Security is an issue. Apple’s iOS still isn’t as tight as the fated BlackBerry. iTunes does not make widescale corporate deployments easy. In Here Come Tablets, Here Come Problems (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203986604577253162552946038.html) The Wall Street Journal recounted some of the problems businesses have encountered, including:

  • Tablets not being rugged enough for some situations
  • Traditional computer programs that won’t work on tablets
  • Documents sent from a computer to a tablet ends up losing some key characteristics

These and other challenges have to be overcome. But the widespread nature of these problems—coming so soon after tablets have hit the market—are themselves evidence of how pervasive and critical tablets already are in business.

For more about how today’s mobile devices are helping to drive a new wave of innovation, see the Forrester whitepaper–Mobile Solutions Connect Information Workers To Collaboration And Innovation Processes at  http://www.bulldogsolutions.net/Avaya/knowledgebase/AVA1042/BCL%20-%20Mobile%20Collaboration%20-%20Mobile%20Solutions%20Connect%20Information%20Workers%20-%20Mar%202012.pdf

For a good example of the kind of mobile app that’s helping to support new levels of mobile collaboration, see this brief demo of the Avaya Mobile Collaboration Solution for Small and Midsize businesses:  http://www.avaya.com/usa/VideoPlayerInLine.aspx?CurrentPath=/master-usa/en-us/resource/assets/videos/sme_mobile_collaboration_demo.flv&htmltrigger=video-overlay

About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 27 years experience in Business Technology Solutions. Specializing in managed technologies solutions : hosted VoIP, cyber security, help desk, remote monitoring and maintenance, cloud work space and - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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