Riding the Wave Article on SmartGorillas.comOctober 6, 2011
Riding the Wave
By Costis Papadimitrakopoulos
It’s easy to forget that tablet computers only really hit the main-stream when the iPad launched in 2010. Now, the tablet market is booming, with Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Asus and HTC all competing to knock Apple off its podium. At the last count, a total of 3.62 million people own tablet computers in the UK, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, and two million more plan to buy tablets in the next year. Interestingly, IDC predicts that tablets and smartphones will ovetake the PC as an internet browsing device use by 2015.
As is typical with consumer technologies, tablet computers have quickly crossed the bridge into the enterprise market. In fact, in Apple’s last earnings call it said nearly half of the Global 500 are testing or deploying iPads within their organisations, with the likes of Xerox, Estée Lauder, Disney and Prudential Financial having already issued iPads to their workforce.
Underpinning this move to the enterprise market is a number of factors, notably the rise in business applications, the increasing shift to mobile working and employee drive for companies to embrace ‘Bring Your Own Computer’ (BYOC) corporate schemes. The issues that are somewhat stemming the tide are cultural concerns, as well as critics that remain worried that the technical, operational and security questions have not been answered.
It’s easy to see why businesses are drawn to tablet computers. A survey by Frost & Sullivan shows that tablets enabled increased employee productivity, reduced paperwork, and increased overall revenue – it goes so far as to estimate that the mobile-office application market may reach $6.85 billion in the US alone by 2015, up from an estimated $1.76 billion. It’s attracting attention from big players, with bespoke enterprise tablet technologies expected to hit the market soon, including the likes of Huawei S7 and VMware’s virtual desktop product for tablets, VMView.
Worldwide, over a billion people consider themselves as mobile workers. Tablets are incredibly well suited to employees that work on the go, for them to remain productive by being able to access company servers, wherever they are. Already, 43% of tablet owners use them while commuting. Businesses could capitalise on this time, by equipping their workers with a tool they actually want to use so that this time is put towards work.
Alternatively, businesses could look at adopting a BYOC scheme – this has been proven to not only boost employee morale, but also to cut costs. Corporate advocates for this scheme include Citrix Systems, which also gives workers £1,350 towards the PC and/or tablet of their choice, as well as Kraft Foods, which recently announced that it plans to let employees choose their own devices.
Responding to the critics
Despite mobility and telecommuting growing at a staggering pace, there are still critics that overestimate the difficulty for IT departments to support multiple brands and platforms. They also underestimate the ability of IT departments to segregate corporate data down to the individual level.
They needn’t worry. By investing in the right technology and putting clear, easy-to-understand policies in place, companies can allow staff to use any device at work, without worrying about how this may impact corporate security or productivity across the organisation. The real issue lies in addressing the cultural issue – whereby some companies are still uncomfortable about embracing mobile working; preferring to have the staff where they can see them. The technology is in place to enable the shift.
As we look to the future, it’s clear that organisations within the private and public sector are increasingly moving towards mobile workforces. But gone are the days when workers were all issued with the same devices that could only access corporate emails. Nowadays, employees want a choice and businesses to tailor functionality down to an individual level. Technology continues to evolve and it’s those businesses that embrace the opportunities it can enable that will remain the most competitive.
Costis Papadimitrakopoulos is CEO of Globo