Tablet PCs: CIOs steer clear of big rollouts

CIO Jury: There's a limited market for tablet devices in business for the next 12 months, say IT chiefs...

Whether it's the Apple iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook or the Dell Streak, new touchscreen hardware is appearing almost daily.

But while hardware makers are rushing out tablet devices, enterprises aren't hurrying to deploy them, according to's exclusive poll of CIOs.

When asked whether they were planning to roll out tablet devices to a significant proportion of their users in the next 12 months, the response from the CIO Jury was no by a margin of 11 to one.

Stephen Potter, CIO at World-Check, said: "There is no demand from the business to deploy tablets. It's difficult to imagine, in the next 12 months, a solid business justification for any significant deployment beyond a handful of early adopters."

And Alan Bawden, operations and IT director at The JM Group, added: "We will probably incorporate a couple into the business to use as sales presentation tools to add a bit of pizzazz to the process, but cannot see it taking the place of the trusty laptop just yet."

But that doesn't mean CIOs won't be rolling out tablets to some key sets of users. Mike Roberts, IT director at the London Clinic, said his organisation will be looking at the iPad for a number of customer-facing staff and in some clinical areas, for example.

Meanwhile, Ben Booth, CIO at Ipsos, said his company is already using tablets and smartphones for data collection. "The new generation of tablets appears to have even more potential - we are testing them and we see the possibilities of using them for market research survey data collection. Perhaps the biggest opportunities for us and our clients will be from apps," he added.

However, some CIOs are seeing a growing thirst for tablets in the enterprise as staff become accustomed to using such devices outside work. Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO northern Europe at Sodexo, said: "People, especially senior management, are demanding the same tools at the office as at home. The ease with which an iPad can be connected to corporate email platforms means some staff buy their own personal device. IT teams will have to accommodate."

Apple iPad tablet

The Apple iPad tablet is making its way into enterprises
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at Hachette Filipacchi, said his team are planning to answer users' demands for such devices. "If colleagues want an iPhone, iPad or Android device enough, then they are usually well motivated to learn a bit more about them, realise more benefits from them and be less of a support burden," he added.

Others are keeping a watching brief on tablets in the enterprise. Chris Weston, IS director at Deritend Industries, said: "We'll keep an eye on the market - it was really only created this year and many companies will be releasing iPad-style devices, so as the market matures and the technology is refined I expect we will have an excellent range of light, easy-to-use presentation devices to choose from for our sales team."

Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet, said he has no plans to roll out tablets in the immediate future. "Tablets are useful consumer devices but need extensions for corporate usage, such as Citrix or Microsoft Office support," he noted.

This week's CIO Jury was:

  • Alan Bawden, IT and operations director, The JM Group
  • Dr Ben Booth, CIO, Ipsos
  • Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi
  • Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO northern Europe, Sodexo
  • Neil Harvey, IT director, Sindlesham Court
  • John Keeling, CIO, John Lewis
  • Stephen Potter, CIO, World-Check
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Mike Tonkiss, IT director, Neopost
  • Chris Weston, information systems director, Deritend Industries
  • Steve Williams, director of information systems and services, Newcastle University
  • Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities, LCH.Clearnet

Want to be part of's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at

By Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was th...