If you haven't already, your organization should take a look at its technology plans for 2014, including a tablet strategy. Whether your organization has implemented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or your mobile workforce is asking for more tablet-based options, it's time to start formalizing your tablet strategy to stay on the cusp of innovation.
A tablet strategy for your enterprise enables CIOs to justify the following expenditures:
- Issuing tablets to more business users
- Improving mobile security for BYOD and corporate devices
- Mobile productivity apps
Here are some ideas on where to drill down into for your 2014 tablet strategy.
Refine BYOD policies and strategies
BYOD is gaining acceptance, and CIOs are being asked to support more employee devices. Smartphones are often the first personal mobile device that enters the enterprise, but with tablet popularity increasing — the iPad Air, Android tablets, and even the Kindle HDX — more of these devices are getting into consumer hands. More importantly, users who received tablets as gifts over the holidays will want to get their shiny new devices on the organization's network.
BYOD as part of your 2014 tablet strategy should focus on improving device security and endpoint access via a BYOD cost/benefit analysis.
Move data visualization and reporting to tablets
With apps like Roambi Analytics, Roambi Flow, and GoodData for iPad, tablets can become powerful reporting tools for business decision makers. Properly implemented, these tools can free up IT staff from having to run reports against corporate data upon business user requests, which enables the staff members to focus on more client-billable or mission-critical projects.
CIOs also need to work with the business users to reframe processes and reset expectations so that they begin to look at information on their tablets as "the deliverable" and not another Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Mobilize paper-driven business processes with tablets
Paper forms should be a relic in today's mobile-driven organizations. There, I said it. CIOs can play an integral role in moving forms-driven processes (some of which haven't changed much since the era of the typewriter) to online forms. Adobe Acrobat XI supports this kind of mobile strategy, and there are startups (like ServiceMax) that take paper-driven processes for the field services industry to tablets and the cloud.
Use a tablet as a tool for CIO/CMO peace
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and CIO don't have to be natural enemies in the wild. In fact, tablets can be a peace offering between these two executives around the cause of mobilizing the sales team. Tablets are quickly becoming the preferred technology form factor for sales teams when you account for tablets as a platform for the following:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) access
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) access
- Sales presentations to prospective and current customers
In fact, I recently wrote an article on TechRepublic about delivering dynamic sales presentations with Showpad Professional, and I've covered related topics in previous months that speak to a tablet future for sales teams.
A mobile sales force strategy requires the talents of sales, marketing, and technology. Combining these arms of an organization can lay the framework for a dynamic sales message that catches the prospects' attention and their business.
Create a mobile productivity app strategy
During the past year, TechRepublic covered some of the various office productivity app options for the iPad and Android tablets. While Quip shows some promise, Microsoft's apathy to migrate a functional version of Microsoft Office to iOS and Android makes business-grade Office options for tablets seem further out of reach. When I thought it couldn't get worse, Google hobbled the excellent Quickoffice app to only work with Google cloud services.
The choice can be rather confusing right now, and CIOs can help serve their mobile user community by establishing some standards for both corporate document access, creation, and editing from tablets.
Implement Android in the enterprise
I'm an iOS user, but I would be negligent to not mention the recent improvements in the Android world. Android devices, particularly Android tablets in the enterprise, have made inroads in the areas of security and usability. CIOs with business users who want to use Android devices now have a growing list of virtualization options from the likes of established players, including VMware and startups like Nubo Software.
Audit customer support/access for tablet users
While I typically focus on tablets in the enterprise, CIOs also need to consider how their organization's customers interact with their online properties and services via tablets.
When you audit how your external customers interact with your organization, it might mean more HTML 5 and mobile app development entering your organization's project pipeline for 2014.
A CIO driving a tablet strategy for their organization to ring in 2014 can help the business users they support benefit from the latest in tablet and mobile app innovations, thus contributing to a competitive advantage for workers vs. the doubts, uncertainties, and bureaucratic gridlock that beset some mobile strategies. Is your organization ready for tablets in 2014? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.