Apple’s new iPad sold 3 million units in its first three days, and if you think these new iPad owners plan to limit tablet use to just fun and games, think again. The use of connected devices such as tablets in the enterprise is growing leaps and bounds, partly on the coattails of consumer adoption rates, and partly thanks to the value these devices can add to a business. So much so that it is creating a trend known as BYOD (bring your own device).
New data from TechSci Research, www.techsciresearch.com, suggests 30% of overall demand for tablet PCs will be driven by the enterprise during the next five years. In fact, during this timeframe, tablets’ estimated growth rate in enterprise could increase by five times. TechSci also suggests top management will be the first in their companies to adopt the devices, followed by sales and marketing staff.
Tablets add value to the enterprise sector in a number of ways. The devices offer realtime access to the Web, including email and cloud content, plus they provide a platform for productivity apps. These features can increase efficiency and productivity by being available remotely and on the go.
The tablet is not just beneficial to those industries whose employees work remotely. These devices can add a whole new dimension to retail, for instance, by providing cloud-based product information and mobile POS (point-of-sale) services to associates on the sales floor. Mobile retail-management applications deployed on enterprise tablets can even help retailers keep track of inventory in realtime.
Tablet adoption for the enterprise ranges from retail to construction, healthcare to education, and everything in between. Besides Apple’s iPad, which TechSci Research says made up 90% of the enterprise market in 2011, other companies offer devices that are designed for the workplace.
For example, Motorola, www.motorola.com, offers the ET1 Enterprise Tablet, which helps workers accommodate today’s connected consumer by giving them access to realtime information. The Android-based ET1 offers a host of third-party enterprise applications designed for mobile business, including item location, product comparison, planograms, and mobile POS.
Panasonic, www.panasonic.com, also offers an Android-powered line of tablets optimized for business use. Available in 10-inch and 7-inch configurations, Panasonic’s A1 and B1 Toughpads offer optional 3G or 4G wireless connectivity, as well as Bluetooth, 802.11 Wi-Fi, and GPS.
But as TechSci points out, the large number of tablets being used today in business are consumer-designed devices such as the iPad. Due to the influx of these devices into the marketplace, BYOD continues to trend upward, or more specifically, BYOT (bring your own tablet). BYOT refers to employers allowing, even encouraging, employees who own these connected devices to bring them to work or to use them on the job to increase productivity.
As industries adopt this BYOT model, it will be interesting to see what challenges arise from disparate operating systems and other compatibility issues among different devices at use on the job. This is a hurdle the industry will need to cross; but if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that tablets mean business, and they’re not going anywhere but deeper into the enterprise space.