Tablets: A Business Toy Or Business Tool?

Business Tablet

Today’s business environment is continually changing, in part to keep up with numerous technological advancements and the shifting demands of the modern workforce. Some organisations have acted fast to implement a mobility business model in order to remain competitive and meet employee expectations, which are often strongly rooted in consumer experiences; but for those that have yet to invest in alternative mobility strategies and/or devices, a technological innovation gap between user experiences and business IT requirements has appeared.

Organisations who do not respond to and work to bridge this innovation gap run the risk of being seen as an outdated company unable to keep up with technological advancements, ultimately labelled as an unattractive employer. The question is – what can be done to fill this gap? Is there an opportunity for devices such as tablets to enter the realm of the enterprise, or are they forever destined to be a consumer-rooted business toy?

The Modern Business Landscape

The modern employee’s expectations are governed by their consumer experiences. As a result of the emergence of new devices and applications, the blurring of work and home life, and the rise in social media, they now want the same choice and functionality in their work life as they have become used to at home.

This includes having the option of personal choice when it comes to technology, having access to their personal and corporate accounts on the same device easily and without risk, and being able to work anywhere, anytime via responsive, mobile and powerful devices. Technology can be configured to the individual user and consumers prefer technology tailored to their needs, enabling them to operate as effectively as possible. In fact, a recent Intelligent Office survey, found that 58 percent of people believe that technology is a representation and extension of their personalities.

In order to respond to these expectations and ensure employees are provided with the right tools to do their jobs effectively, a number of different mobility business models have emerged. The four most implemented include; Corporate Issued, Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE), Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Each of these mobility models not only impact the way the organisation operates in terms of efficiencies, productivity and corporate culture, but also the way IT solutions and devices are purchased and integrated into the business infrastructure.

The Mobility Challenge

These models are designed to help organisations combat the “innovation gap” – put simply, the disparity between what employees expect from business technology (often this is a replica of the devices and gadgets they use at home) and what support the business is able to provide. Many organisations are still struggling to understand how to overcome the hurdles of security challenges, IT compatibility and network functionality. And with a plethora different of operating systems, software and devices in the marketplace, there is an extra layer of complexity to the management and security of corporate data on non-corporate owned systems.

Many organisations have slowed the implementation of a BYOD policy, purely due to security fears and concerns over the cost of making amends to the existing IT infrastructure. As such, trying to bridge the innovation gap has forced a balance between risk and control with models such as COPE and CYOD being a prime example of this – providing a middle ground between meeting the requirements of the IT team and the consumer-influenced requirements of staff.

Worryingly, for businesses struggling to tackle this innovation, the gap is only set to widen. Analyst forecasts for technology growth signal further change to the business landscape, with Juniper Research suggesting the amount of employee-owned smartphone and tablet devices will top one billion by 2018. Additionally, according to Gartner, the global spend on IT in 2014 is expected to total $3.8 trillion, rising 3.1 percent in comparison to 2013, and tablets are seen as the main driver of growth in the device market.

If organisations do not take steps to introduce mobile devices into their organisations, they run the risk of compromising their competitiveness in the industry and relinquishing control as employees seek to take device choice into their own hands.

How Can Organisations Respond?

Looking specifically at tablets we can see they’ve had a rapid rise in popularity amongst consumers over recent years and sales are expected to increase 53 percent this year. While some organisations have already introduced tablets, many are struggling with the IT business requirements of this type of implementation. The critical piece is understanding and realistically demonstrating where tablets fit into the business environment.

The mobility models of CYOD and BYOD are perfect vehicles to do this, particularly with the introduction of a new category of tablets – one that sees consumer desirability merged with commercial necessities. These devices have been designed to connect to enterprise environments – combining the level of performance, design and responsiveness consumers love, while giving IT departments additional security features and the ability to integrate into an existing corporate environment with full compatibility with current Windows applications and Microsoft Office.

Alongside this, the recent surge in enterprise-level mobile apps and their ease of use and mobility options mean migrating to a business tablet can become a very beneficial choice for organisations.

Tools For Success

Constraints in how people work creates frustration for employees that are accustomed to more flexible technology in their home life. Technology innovation is unlikely to slow down and employee expectations and demands will continue, so we can expect the innovation gap to continue to grow and businesses who fail to respond will increasingly fall behind.

However, organisations which take the necessary steps to introduce a business mobility model and challenge the historical way mobile devices have been integrated into the enterprise environment are more likely to succeed, identifying themselves as a modern employer and a competitive business which supports increased productivity. Business tablets are in a prime position to help bridge this innovation gap and need to be recognised as a legitimate business tool within the device eco-system, particularly with the introduction of a new category of devices that span the consumer and commercial sectors.

Margaret Franco

Margaret Franco is Dell's Executive Director, supporting the End User Computing Sales organisation and responsible for sales programs and sales enablement. Margaret is also currently leading the NDBM sell to plan work-streams. Margaret has an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Houston and has a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. Her specialities include strategy development, product marketing, life cycle management and brand management.