Research firm Gartner, in a new report on technology trends in the enterprise, reports that CIOs and other executives are determined not to drop the ball with the latest consumerist technology trend: tablets. The report finds that many execs admit to overlooking smartphones and their potential on the enterprise until it was too late.

Gartner’s new report, entitled “iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business,” points out the business advantages of the technology and the new skill set required of employees who use the devices. The work is worth managers’ time, however, as several executives interviewed by Gartner vowed not to dismiss tablets as “expensive and frivolous toys, or executive status symbols” as many did with smartphones and earlier iterations of mobile technology.

According to TelecomTV’s Martyn Warwick, “Gartner predicts that somewhere in the region of 69 million tablets will be shipped over the course of this year … but that the sales will have an impact on the corporation that is out of all proportion to the number of tablets sold.”

Among the biggest lessons learned among those in charge of vetting new technologies, according to Warwick, is to be receptive to consumer trends that make their way into business. IT departments and others were often wary of employees bringing their smartphones to work and thus failed to exploit the devices’ business advantages. Not so with iPads and other tablets, according to Gartner’s report.

But despite predictions for nearly 70 million tablet sales in 2011, Gartner concedes that tablets won’t be replacing PCs in business any time soon.

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