Tablets Making Inroads with Enterprise IT Departments

As tablets gain traction in the enterprise, manufacturers such as Apple and HP are making more gestures to win over reluctant IT departments. Republished with permission from Mobile Enterprise.

Two years ago the phrase “tablet PC” conjured up images of a clunky device that relied on a stylus for input. In less than 24 months, Apple, with its sleek, intuitive iPad, has changed the public’s perception of what a tablet can be and do—and in the process, has upended the mobile computing landscape for good.

Indeed, tablets have eroded PC sales, with many consumers and enterprises replacing desktops and laptops with the slate devices. And 86% of Fortune 500 companies are deploying or evaluating iPads, Apple reported in its most recent quarterly earnings call. But research shows that despite tablets’ booming popularity, many enterprise users want improved functionality before they would consider abandoning their traditional PCs altogether.

Discover how Apple—not known for being a business-friendly company—has managed to stay at the head of the class when it comes to tablets in the enterprise. And learn why it’s facing increased competition from Samsung and its feature-packed Galaxy Tab devices, which are being deployed by a leading airline and piloted at a southern university.

What IT leaders want

Although Apple first won the tablet war in the hearts of consumers, it’s also winning the battle with IT. Peter Crocker, founder and principal analyst, SmithPoint Analytics, says the battle started with the iPhone. “The company has clearly established the iPhone as the leader in the smartphone market and many IT departments have begun supporting iOS,” he explains. “Apple’s strength and leadership also reduces the risk for IT managers to buy and support Apple products.”

According to Denise Lund, senior analyst, Yankee Group, IT leaders prioritize tablets that:

  • Can easily connect to corporate systems and applications (58%)
  • Feature security and management capabilities (48%)
  • Have a strong battery life (78%)
  • Include a high-quality touchscreen (75%)
  • Feature an intuitive operating system user interface (68%), and
  • Include data security features (68%)

“With IT decision-makers deeming [these] factors most important when considering a tablet for employees, it is not really a surprise that there is a smaller percentage having deployed or considering deploying the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tabs,” she adds. “You can see how enterprises can be challenged in thinking through which tablet to purchase. The two current leaders in the enterprise win for different mixes of [these] criteria.”

The Yankee Group Enterprise Decision Maker Survey, July 2011 found that 51% of IT decision-makers are looking at the iPad for tablet purchases, while 18% are eyeing the BlackBerry PlayBook, 17% are considering the Motorola Xoom, and 11% are testing the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

What users want

Users agree that there’s room for improvement in the current stable of tablets. In a recent survey by Keypoint Technologies, users cited poor predictive text, auto-correction, and copy-and-paste functionality among the top concerns with slate PCs. These issues hinder document and content creation on tablet devices.

Mary Ellen Amodeo, a partner with public relations firm Amodeo Associates, relies exclusively on her iPad when traveling for business. She says she’d feel much more comfortable using the tablet as her primary computing device if its autocorrection and predictive text funcionalities were better. “Sometimes the word they come up with is more obscure than the one I was going to type,” she says.

Still, Amodeo says she gets 80% functionality out of her iPad. “I can rely on it for communication and that’s the number-one thing I need to do on the road. And I can use it to create content.

“What I can’t use it for is more in depth, longer, more publishable documents, which I tend not to need to do on the road. But for what I need, the tablet works well,” she continues.

Amodeo also wants to see improved organization on her iPad. “I wish it worked more like what I’m used to in terms of the way I find files and where things are stored,” she explains. For example, she searched in vain under “movies” for a video she recorded, only to find it was located under “photos.”

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