Tablets optimize

Deal with it: Tablets are here to stay

There's no point living in denial: more and more staff are bringing tablets to work so organisations have to adjust their policies in response.

Tablets are becoming a standard business tool for many workers, so businesses need to rethink their attitudes towards devices, whether they are buying them or not.

Research by analyst Ovum found that 17.6 percent of the employees it surveyed had already been provided with a tablet by their employer, up from 12.5 percent in 2012: but of the respondents who owned a tablet themselves, 66.7 percent used that device at work.

As the proportion of tablet owners increased from 28.4 percent of staff in 2012 to 44.5 percent in 2013, this means a rapid increase in the number of personal tablets also being used at work.

Richard Absalom, analyst for consumer impact technology at Ovum, said companies need to accept the reality: "The message for businesses is that people will be bringing them in anyway whether you have planned for it or not," he told TechRepublic.

He said some workers can be more productive with tablets – for example retail workers or field engineers. There are also some niche usages where tablets can replace paper, for pilots or doctors for example, and this will drive some enterprise deployments.

For many organisations deployments may remain limited because they are reluctant to spend money on an extra device. But that doesn't mean companies will get all the benefits of tablet-touting staff without any of the costs: businesses will have to invest in the software and skills needed to manage these devices which will be used to access sensitive business information.

Also, as the majority of tablets used in business are iOS and Android devices, this trend will drive demand for new skills, Absalom warned: "For businesses that have a Microsoft environment they will need extra expertise or tools."

Companies also need to consider best practice around deploying tablets and how slate devices can change their business processes.


About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

38 comments
Jenny Bourbiel
Jenny Bourbiel

Yes BYOD is here for good. Was just in another meeting where everyone was on their laptop or tablet and their smart phones - simultaneously. All these devices adds new stress in determining how much bandwidth you really need to keep everyone connected. Daily, we hear that businesses struggle with "sizing" their broadband Internet, especially when they want to sign a 2 or 3 year contract, and that easy scalable broadband services like Skyriver Enterprise are a big "Like"

3rd Coast Geeks
3rd Coast Geeks

Yes, it is here to stay. In the small to medium sized business world the IT department is usually non-existent or hired to fix problems after they have occurred. Most SMBs do not have IT plans or even rudimentary IT policies....

Saud Hassan Kazia
Saud Hassan Kazia

no. un-tech republic...why are you trying to destroy IT by encouraging this type of behavior. IT department should drive IT not users

javelin1971
javelin1971

Doubt if I trust any article with the bastard word organisations in the headline.

jonkk
jonkk

I was hoping the article would have some actual suggestions on *what* best practices, policies and procedures should be examined and what are some of the leading changes companies are making.

Jay_H
Jay_H

Tablets are good for lightweight stuff--portable catalog, field data collection etc. In the right place they make sense. In no way are they a replacement for desktops or even notebooks, however.

Companies should not, however, be using the employee's tablet. That's bad news for both parties.

carlsf
carlsf

and where did you gleen this information from???

Adam_12345
Adam_12345

"no point living in denial"....true,but it's worth setting up a sort of prioritization sometimes and it is very helpful also when considering some innovations in tablets

mannyalbite
mannyalbite

The only tablet out there at the present that could be used in business, and that is windows Surface Pro, but still in my office I preffer to used a desktop with a nice screen size.

l.kobiernicki
l.kobiernicki

The promotion of mobile devices is a fraud.  Their lifecycle is rated at approximately 2 years, when you hear the manufacturers dunning their customers to upgrade ( as the components' lifecycle begins to come to an end ).  Laptops, and better still, desktops, are -- and always have been - a better investment -- if a megacorp is really looking for traditional profits-from-commercial operations ROI.  

But then, companies have now become accustomed to sacrificing ROI from actual work ( the productivity economy ), to concern themselves rather with share price, and manipulations of stock market.  So productive investment is no longer a binding criterior of their core business.  They can dump and crush vast  stocks of spares etc. because they're not reliant on a productivity index of profitability. 

So the new-wave future is beginning to look like a controlled and distributed form of Chaos Inc, while what is sound traditional business, as a service to supply customer/client need, is a vanishing breed.  The poor employee won't know where to locate themselves, in all these paradigm shifts.  If they buy into all this short-termism, they will reap the consequences = ever more expenditure ..

This entirely transforms and transvalues all other values, including those of data security and integrity.

John Forbes
John Forbes

Did that headline slip through a timewarp? Who is denying that they are here to stay?

But  "Ovum found that 17.6 percent of the employees it surveyed had already been provided with a tablet by their employer" is surprisingly high, but no clue about methodology though so hard to judge.

adornoe
adornoe

Kind of like a strawman argument.  Nobody was denying that tablets are here to stay.

The only argument is, what will people use them for, and which tablets will succeed in the consumer and business sectors.

In the consumer market,it's already a success, although penetration is still not so strong.

On the business side, the only question is, which tablet and/or OS will become the most successful.  iPads had a lead of 3 years in adoption, and they're still not good BYOD devices.  Android are adequate for the consumer market, but not serious contender in the business side.  The only tablets which will be successful and could take over the whole business side, are the Windows-based devices, including the Surface Pros.   Eventually, even where iPads had been adopted, they'll be replaced by Windows tablets.  Apple will then be relegated to "just" the consumer side, as well as the Android tablets.

JamesLeeP
JamesLeeP

In a grocery retail environment, we have found immediate value in the 6 tablets we have integrated.  Product buyers are able to eliminate the need for old school 'RF guns' on the sales floor, which are 4x the cost of a tablet/Bluetooth scanner combo.  Purchasing them in house means the IT team can enforce AUPs; we offer an open wifi channel for BYOD devices (for both customers and staff).  This is only the beginning - I foresee that multiple PC workstations will be collecting dust as we transition to more mobile devices.

tulaipaul
tulaipaul

Tablets may be offered by the employers to increase the productivity, but the misuse should be strictly monitored. People have been found to be engaged in browsing mobile apps and mobile games even during office hours. That may the slogan for appnext or admob or revmob, but the top authorities have to remain careful

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

Tablets may be here to stay, but you can say the same about cigarettes and prostitution.  Just because tablets are going to stick around doesn't mean they are the "end all, be all" of technology.  Far from it.  We have a reasonable office workforce, composed of sales, marketing, and engineering staff.  We have 2 tablets available for anyone who wants to use them, one iPad and one Android, and they sit in the IT office collecting dust.  A few people have borrowed them in the past, but they always bring them back, saying that it's not as good as thier laptop and doesn't do even half of what they need.  I know a couple of other IT admins at other companies, with more than 500 employees, and they also have only a handful of tablets that don't really get used for much.  The BYOD is virtually nonexistent as well.  Once again, the "everyone is going mobile" dilusion is overblown hype being belched out nonstop by a marketing smoke machine.

woomera
woomera

That may be fine in large corporations but I wonder if they have some means of insurance if the BYOD devices are damaged or stolen at the workplace. An experiment with a school in Australia was cancelled due to the fact (besides insurance problem) that it created a divide between the haves and have not.

jred
jred

@Saud Hassan Kazia Actually, providing users with the tech they need is the job of IT. If the IT department isn't providing the services the users need, pretty soon there'll be a new IT dept...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@Jay_H "In no way are they a replacement for desktops or even notebooks, however."

That statement requires a huge qualifier. If you're talking about notebooks as "portable desktops" then you are absolutely correct, but as mobility devices laptops are simply too much tool for the job, requiring at a minimum a place to set it down to use it and honestly carrying far too much baggage for ease of use.

A tablet/slate has the advantage of being truly mobile without the overhead a laptop demands in power and usability. When you go to a client's site all you really need is communications suitable for research and presentation along with possibly some photographic capability. You don't need a full version of Office when you're typically doing nothing more than taking notes and filling forms. You don't need a full version of Photoshop when all you need is to make minor adjustments. Most of those photoshop tasks require a much larger, calibrated display for accuracy, of which even a laptop is only minimally capable unless it's a far more expensive workstation model.

In essence, for mobility purposes a laptop is simply too much machine.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@mannyalbite Like many, you seem to either want to overestimate a tablet's purpose or underestimate its capabilities. Surface Pro can never truly qualify as a "Tablet" despite its form factor simply because it carries all the overhead of a "portable desktop"--meaning laptop. For over 90% of the tasks it would accomplish, it's simply too much machine, as I've described above.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@l.kobiernicki You make some interesting points, but I think you're underestimating the value of tablets in the workplace. It really depends on how they are used and as long as you understand they are not meant to perform desktop-level tasks they fit the purpose better than any other device on the market; large enough for easy presentation to a client yet compact enough for truly mobile portability. 

You talk about component lifecycles of only two years, yet even desktops only see a three-year lifecycle in the enterprise under most circumstances. Considering the typical cost of a tablet as compared to a typical laptop under the same conditions, the ROI of a tablet could honestly be better than a laptop's by the simple fact that a tablet is less likely to be damaged on site because it doesn't have to be set down for use and is more easily carried while in use. This is some less risk of dropping them and they simply don't need licenses for full versions of applications like Office or Photoshop, making them less expensive to adopt into the workplace.

Your entire second paragraph is irrelevant due to the fact that it makes too many assumptions about economy that may or may not be valid when it comes to IT--typically the single most money-losing department in the business.

Our world is changing and business is changing simply because technology is changing it. Traditional methods are shot simply because communications is far faster and comprehensive than they've ever been before. You can't think in terms of short-term benefits as quantifyingly affecting long-term results in the same manner. (Yes, I did make up my own term here.) In other words, this year's "bottom line" will have far more effect on tomorrows profits and losses than ever before. Buying cheap now could mean massive expenses later--as evidenced by how many companies have gone nearly bankrupt in just the last few years.

Yes, we all know individual devices will have a relatively short operational life, but if you buy quality in the first place, that operational life can be measurably longer AND reduce overall costs. Corporations bought IBM Selectric typewriters because they offered more reliability than almost any other brand of electric typewriter. You never got key jams that wasted time and killed productivity clearing them. But when desktop computers came onto the market nearly every company bought the cheapest machines available rather than the more expensive IBM because "they do the same thing at lower cost" totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority of those cheap clones failed far more often that IBM's own models which added long-term cost. I, personally, fought that trend as a purchasing agent for one such company, proving that buying quality SAVED the company tens of thousands of dollars in just my first year on the job for ONE manufacturing plant. 

I do know the differences between up-front cost and ROI.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@John Forbes Considering some of the commentary in this forum alone, there are a lot of people denying it and trying to ignore the real capabilities of tablets/slates in the workplace.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@adornoe As usual, you're proven wrong yet again as even in this forum we have people denying that tablets have a purpose in the workplace.

As for your own views, odds are the cheapest ones will end up the most adopted, though I would hope that businesses have learned their lesson that quality ends up less expensive in the long run.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@tulaipaul And people didn't do the same thing with Minesweeper and other built-in games in Windows? (I admit I was guilty too, 'til I started my own business.)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@Darren B - KC You clearly emphasize my own points with one statement, "Just because tablets are going to stick around doesn't mean they are the "end all, be all" of technology." Too many people think that such 'end alll, be all' is what tablets are intended to be and THOSE are the people who are having the most trouble understanding why they are so successful in the enterprise. Tablets are NOT intended to replace workstations or laptops used as workstations. They ARE intended to replace laptops used as mobility devices where such laptops tend to cost more and are harder to use on site at remote locations or customer/client operations. Mobility and easy use can be far more productive in situations where applications like MS Office itself is simply far too much tool for the task.

If an iPad and an Android tablet are just sitting in the office collecting dust, it is because somebody tried to task them with jobs they are NOT capable of performing while ignoring the benefits they could offer on other tasks where that laptop is too clumsy. This sounds much more like people actively looked for faults with the devices rather than even trying to assess their strengths.

taavisepp78
taavisepp78

Ahh - there's the problem! Two devices sitting in IT and collecting dust. Similar situation as buying an expensive MFD to replace personal inkjets and hide it in the postroom. I have worked in two companies over past seven years that had a shared laptop for everyone to use during presentations and meetings. Truth was that those were heavily underused due to amount of problems caused by updates and unfamiliarity. I have had an iPad for past six months (I also have a small and relatively light/powerful laptop in the office) and use it when I'm commuting. That's when it marvels. In the office it's good for internal app testing and that's where it stops. There are certain industries and sectors where android / apple tablets are the best choice, but the topic should be approached with care. Otherwise people spend tons of money on a questionable value proposition.

I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago on using Surface Pro as desktop/laptop replacement for roaming workforce. http://taavisepp.tumblr.com/post/61587822899/windows-8-tablet-as-my-one-and-only-pc

midlantic
midlantic

@Darren B - KC Agree, these are expensive toys as our sales force found out after clamoring for I Pads. Primarily now used for getting their email or looking up a web site which is something that they were already doing on their smart phones.

A Windows device would have made more sense but we were told that "it couldn't wait".  

dzx11
dzx11

@woomera A school I worked at made it mandatory for kids in certain year levels to have iPad's which they had to bring around to class like a textbook. They were also given a list of approved apps to buy along with an iTunes gift card which worked out to be about $50 each student. If they spent it on game purchases then it was on them to buy the required apps with their own money. Each iPad was student/family owned and if it broke then the onus was on the families to repair. 

Despite having grown up being surrounded by technology I still question the value of a tablet device in a classroom. There's still benefit in using a pen, an exercise book and a textbook to learn from. I don't have a teaching background but I think what it comes down to is the question of are you trying to teach kids how to use a specific app? Or are you trying to use that app as a means to teach them something else? Neither option is necessarily wrong but I can see a problem arising when teachers and students are distracted and spend more time on figuring out how to use an app rather than learning the actual concept.

adornoe
adornoe

@Vulpinemac @adornoe There's nothing wrong with what I said, and there's nothing I said that is opinion.  

The only one wrong on anything is you.  

Tablets are here to stay, but mostly on the consumer side, and if any tablets are deemed suitable for the business sector, it's not an iPad nor any Android tablet. The only tablets suitable for business, are the Windows-based tablets, and the Surface Pro tablets. 

Your idea about what is right, is always anything to do with Apple, and the iPad is what you believe is ready for business, but that's not the case.  The only reason the iPad is used in businesses right now, is because it  didn't have any competition for the first 2 years of its existence.  Going forward, no iPad can even begin to compare to the Windows tablets, since those are not "just another tablet", and are in reality, PCs in the form of a tablet.  

Your problem is that, love is blind, and you're so blinded by your love for Apple, that nothing else could ever get you to look at a different maker for your devices.  Your approach to all situations, involves Apple as your first choice. 

midlantic
midlantic

@dzx11 @woomera All they need are Kindle Readers, good replacement for heavy textbooks and no chance of distractions. 

adornoe
adornoe

@RobinHahnNo, I'm not in the medical field, but my daughter is a DVM, and she hasn't seen any iPads in the various places she's worked at.  And, she'll be starting her own practice soon, and won't be getting iPads or Android tablets for her practice. 

And, no!!!, I don't work for Microsoft, and  I don't have to be working for Microsoft to recognize which are the best options for businesses and even for consumers.  I don't do blind love for any company or for any device.  I'm the most practical person you could ever meet.

RobinHahn
RobinHahn

Do you happen to work for MS? I'm in the medical field... I see only iPads (except mine which is Android)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@mstormoen I'm going to respond to all four of you here, starting with Woomera:

1.) Immediate feedback is a far better learning tool than waiting days to discover whether your homework answers are right or wrong. Tablet/slate devices offer an interactivity that no previous system could really provide--not even the shared desktop computers used in classrooms up until recently. 

2.) The insurance problem is resolved in two different ways by the use of the "find my (device)" apps and what dzx11 discusses, where the students' families become responsible for the device during the students' use of those devices. I would expect the up-front cost of the device is readily covered by the fact that the parents no longer have to 'buy' the school books (and have to return them at the end of the school year) and the family probably gets to keep the devices, at least in some cases. When you consider that many classbooks now cost in excess of $100 each, a basic iPad is almost the perfect tool for both content management and weight reduction. Even in "my day", those books averaged over two pounds each (about 1 kilogram) and I had to carry six of them to and from school every day. A youngster only weighing in at around 50 pounds (grade school) is now carrying almost 1/3rd their weight in books on the bus. That, my friends, is not healthy for them.

3.) Kindle readers, unless you're talking about the Kindle Fire, simply don't have the horsepower or the display for a true educational device. They're not fast enough for true interactivity and with the exception of ONE touch capable model other than the Kindle Fire itself is almost unusable for interactive purposes. The Kindle Fire itself is unfortunately the least best tool for a student as it's sole purpose is to make Amazon's distractions as available as possible with almost no means of limiting access.

4.) As mentioned in 2. above, the weight factor is critical with today's educational systems. Many of us 'oldsters' have back and joint problems because of having to haul heavy loads of books around when we were far too young to handle them. Yes, I'm fully aware of school lockers where books can be placed between classes and as long as you don't have homework in a given class that's one book you can leave behind; but few classes have instructors that don't assign homework which means if a book gets left at school, that's very probably homework not getting done.

mstormoen
mstormoen

@midlantic @dzx11 @woomera I agree with mid and based on the state of my son's backpack, after just 4 weeks of school, I hope they hurry up and make this an option. I stress the word "option". Not all families in my town can afford even the plain Kindle Reader. Sad but true.