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.