In the next few years the vast majority of businesses will support tablets for their workforce, analysts have predicted.

According to Gartner, by 2013 media tablets such as Apple’s iPad will have infiltrated 80 per cent of enterprises, and the increasing use of the devices, along with other mobile gadgetry such as smartphones, will disrupt business as usual for CIOs in the coming years.

The upcoming “huge wave” of tablets will bring with it a variety of new support requirements for the IT department – starting at a bare minimum of appliance-level support with limited network connectivity and helpdesk support for workers who bring in their own tablets from home, the analyst said.

Apple iPad tablet

A wave of media tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, is heading for the enterprise in the coming years
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

The consumerisation of IT doesn’t stop there. By 2014, Gartner reckons 90 per cent of IT organisations will support corporate applications on employee-owned devices such as laptops and smartphones.

This trend is driven by consumers wanting to use personal devices for work instead of making do with limited corporate offerings and is already well underway, Gartner said, with support for such devices commonplace within four years.

“IT is set to enter the next phase of the consumerisation trend, in which the attention of users and IT organisations shifts from devices, infrastructure and applications to information and interaction with peers,” Gartner said, describing that shift as the start of a “post-consumerisation” era for the IT department.

Organisations’ strategies for another key technology that started life as a consumer offering – social media – are also set to evolve in the coming years.

While many businesses will have established a presence on social services such as Facebook and Twitter, updates are currently often a one-way broadcast stream resembling an RSS feed, according to Gartner.

By 2015, it predicts the rise of “social bots” – automated software agents that can handle and tailor interactions to users in a personalised manner. By then, Gartner believes 10 per cent of a social media user’s online “friends” will consist of such non-human agents.

The rise of social networks will also have implications for CIOs, according to Gartner, as businesses will increasingly expect IT initiatives such as context-aware computing and the harnessing of social networks to generate new revenues.

In 2015, the amount of new revenue generated from such initiatives will become the primary factor determining the incentive portion of Global 2000 CIOs’ annual compensation, the analyst believes.