The iPad and other tablets have the potential to transform employee collaboration and productivity in the enterprise. Here are three reasons to re-explore your organization's approach to tablets.
By Jack Rosenberger
When we talk about tablets in the enterprise, we are talking almost exclusively about iPads as they account for 91 percent of enterprise tablet deployments. The NFL recently bucked this trend by selecting Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablets for some of its most-critical on-field activities, largely for security and legacy software reasons, but the iPad is the most popular, and the most coveted, tablet in the enterprise since its introduction in 2010.
Last year, the enterprise purchased 68.6 million tablets, which accounts for 18 percent of the 381 million tablets shipped worldwide, according to Forrester, and the percent of enterprise tablet purchases has increased every year since the market's formation. However, while tablet adoption has shown continual growth in the enterprise, most organizations appear to lack a cohesive tablet strategy, according to an International Data Corporation survey published last year, which found that only 16 percent of companies say they have a clear enterprise-led approach to mobility,
With those factors in mind, here are three reasons to re-examine your organization's tablet strategy:
Uneven Tablet Distribution
Last year Forrester asked 3,519 employees, including individual workers, managers and supervisors, and director-level executives and above, whether they used a tablet for work on a weekly basis. Of the individual workers, only 10 percent did. For the managers and supervisors, it was 24 percent. But when it came to director-level execs and higher, 43 percent of them used a tablet on a weekly basis. Clearly, if nearly all of your iPads are in executives' offices and managers' cubicles, your tablet distribution hasn't reached even half of your workforce.
No matter how good your organization is when it comes to tablet strategy, even top-tier technology companies like Facebook and Google can learn from others, especially since tablets are still a relatively new technology. Study how your competition uses iPads and other tablets. Ditto for sectors like health care, retail and field services departments like sales, marketing and customer service in which tablet usage is more established. Lastly, talk to fellow CIOs and techies, especially ones who tablet deployment experience. What can you learn from them?
The Apple-IBM deal
My last reason might be the most compelling: the new Apple-IBM partnership. Eight months in the making, the deal between Apple and IBM, announced in July, has the potential to transform mobility in the enterprise. With IBM's help, Apple will be able to increase its iPad sales in the enterprise; likewise, IBM will benefit by providing enterprise support and data analytics capabilities for the iPads. Both companies are now developing enterprise iOS apps for sectors like financial services, health care, insurance and retail. While nothing is guaranteed, this arrangement between two industry titans has the potential to reinvent tablet usage for many organizations.
Beyond the Corner Office
For tablets to be more effectively used in the enterprise, they must move beyond the offices of top executives and managers into the cubicles and workspaces of ordinary employees. Some enterprising CIOs might want to follow the lead of Dell CIO Adriana Karaboutis; she has IT employees watch Dell employees and customers at work with the purpose of finding new ways to improve how they perform their job.
About the Author
Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "SIM IT Trends: Tomorrow Will Be Faster Than Today," click here.