Tablet Time

The use of tablets in the enterprise has changed dramatically in recent years. In the beginning, tablets were seen as something of a status symbol in the workplace, primarily used by senior management, giving them the flexibility to present or report from the board room without having to carry a cumbersome laptop.

However, tablets have now become more of a business tool, increasing productivity, while being used in conjunction with the desktop and mobile device.

The tablet landscape has moved on. There is  now a great deal more choice from manufacturers not only offering expensive, top of the range tablets, but also, entry-level devices with more affordable price points for the average employee; devices such as the Ergo GoTab can be purchased for as little at £60.

Tablets have become readily available to almost any level within the corporate structure and, according to Forrester, tablets are now being used by 12 per cent of workers on a daily basis. Research from both Gartner and IDC reported a slump in global PC shipments in Q3 of 2012, which could be due, in part, to the popularity of tablets and smartphones. So, what are the benefits to organisations of this shift and does this really mean the end of the desktop or are we seeing a transition through to one user: many devices?

Profound benefits

The role of the tablet within the enterprise is evolving, with the potential to bring profound benefits to every level of an organisation. The first benefit is the cost savings that can be made from hardware acquisition and maintenance. The dynamic tablet market and the increased number of manufacturers means that device pricing remains competitive. From a maintenance perspective, the lack of moving parts and SSD hard drive reduces the risk that the device will malfunction.

As more employee-owned tablets enter the enterprise. there is a further cost saving, as the computing power of the tablet means that it has the potential to process tasks and work which would normally be completed on a desktop, thereby extending the desktops lifecycle.

A further benefit is that, due to their portability, tasks can be completed quickly, at the time of decision, prompting a speedier and more efficient response. This more immediate response increases the employee’s productivity, which positively impacts the company’s bottom line. Moreover, tablets are no longer just for information consumption, but can handle more complex information processing. As a case in point, recently announced, a new version of which has been re-designed specifically to work on touchscreen devices.

Applications designed specifically for a tablet’s intrinsic features can be a good way to get value for money, as Ovum has noted: ‘Providing a range of customised applications that make use of tablet functionalities for employees in specific job roles is a good way to gain maximum value from tablets.’

The challenge for the CIO is to develop a strategy that can not only manage the top-down push from the CxO level executives, who are typically the early adopters of tablets within an enterprise but one that can also, for those organisations that wish to, accommodate a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy.

Business case
An all-encompassing strategy means that organisations need to make decisions about which departments and job roles are more suited for tablets; in essence there needs to be a business case for deployment, with a clear and measurable ROI. Critically, each device and operating system must be taken on its own merits and features, optimising the inherent benefits of the tablet, providing maximum ease of use for the employee.

The transition in working practices means that the tablet has a valuable role to play in the new age of mobility. The reality is that we dont need to think in terms of mobile devices replacing the desktop, but rather, working in conjunction with it. What needs to be considered is the task in hand and which devices features will best fit the context for which they are needed. With a single platform solution to manage your mobile devices, you can use any device on any platform with any application.

Over the next two years, an increasing number of employees in the enterprise will be using a combination of desktop, smartphone and tablet, each device offering unique opportunities while complementing each other. Organisations need to be ready to manage this change.

David Akka is UK MD at Magic Software