How should enterprises treat tablets? As replacements of laptops?
Not really, according to research company, Ovum.
Today's tablets should not be considered as laptop replacements for the majority of information workers, says Ovum.
"While useful where data presentation and 'consumption' is concerned, a tablet's form factor and touchscreen make using everyday productivity applications such as spreadsheets and word processors difficult," Ovum said in a statement. "However, using line-of-business tablet applications specifically designed for particular roles within an organisation can provide real value."
In a new report, the technology analyst firm reveals that many organisations are adopting tablets simply to appease employees' desires for the latest technology, rather than considering the real business case. Ovum has forecasted that there will be in excess of 235 million tablets in circulation by 2016.
"For most companies, it is a top-down movement," says Richard Absalom, analyst at Ovum and author of the report. "The CEO or another C-level executive gets hold of an iPad for their personal use and decides that they want to be able to use it in the office. It is hard for the IT department to say no when it is the CEO making the demand, so this opens up the path to further adoption throughout the organisation."
However, Ovum is starting to see a more structured and creative approach by CIOs looking to deploy tablets for specific functions, proactively exploiting this form factor rather than just responding to employee requests for device support.
"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," explains Absalom. "The growing use of in-house app stores indicates that more and more companies are going down this custom development route."
While some companies may decide that there is no added value in provisioning tablets instead of, or as well as, laptops, they may allow employees to bring their own, in order to improve engagement, said Ovum. In which case, as with any "bring/buy your own device" (BYOD) policy, these personally owned devices still need to be subject to corporate mobility and security policies.
"Businesses need to ensure that any tablet being used by employees is as secure as possible, so that vital corporate data is protected. Tablet adoption should be considered as part of a wider enterprise mobility policy - if a company decides to adopt consumer-focused smartphones, it should have the tools in place to manage tablets easily too," said Absalom.
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