CIOs should start looking now at how their business can benefit from the iPad and other tablets, according to analyst firm Gartner.
Business leaders must learn from mistakes made with smartphones, which were "often written off early as expensive and frivolous toys or executive status symbols," said David Willis, research vice president at Gartner, in a report.
Willis added that CIOs who fail to make the most of tablets now, risk being outmanoeuvred by more innovative leaders.
"If you can think of an application for tablets, your competition may well be thinking in the same way - and acting on it."
The Gartner report argues that while predicted tablet shipments - approximately 69 million in 2011 - will only make up a fraction of total mobile device shipments, the influence of tablet devices is likely to be much greater than sales figures alone suggest.
It is the new ecosystem of applications and software developed around the iPad that presents the greatest opportunity for innovative business leaders and has already "made a real difference" to other forms of computing, according to Gartner.
Many enterprise users may have been initially sceptical about the iPad's uses beyond the consumer realm of game applications but features such as its instant availability for checking and sending email, its large screen for reading documents and its usefulness for taking notes during meetings have endeared the iPad to the business community.
However, the report does not suggest that CIOs should look to replace laptops or smartphones with tablets. Instead, it proposes using them to complement existing technologies.
A separate survey by financial services firm Morgan Stanley reported that more tablet devices are being used by businesses than was previously thought. The report stated that 51 per cent of CIOs expected to buy tablets for staff in the coming year if they hadn't already done so.