Is Your Tablet Enterprise Ready?
Whether issued by companies or brought in by workers themselves, off-the-shelf tablet computers intended for consumer use have found their way into the enterprise in recent years.
But as new research from IDG Market Pulse indicates, organizations are “starting to bump up against challenges” around deployment and support of these devices, as they face the reality that popular consumer-grade models are hamstrung by limited functionality and are not robust enough to withstand rigorous enterprise use.
So what are the factors to determine if your tablet is enterprise ready? According to the research, sponsored by Panasonic, some of the top considerations cited by respondents are device security, integration with existing infrastructure and business systems, Windows support, device durability and overall support and maintenance of the tablet.
Implementing tablets as a business-critical tool means device security becomes of utmost importance. In fact, 70% of survey respondents listed security as their top concern related to supporting the products.
Most consumer-grade tablets typically have only the most basic levels of data security (since they’re designed only for personal use), which provides insufficient protection for sensitive business data. They lack enterprise-grade features like built-in firewalls, root protection, trusted boot and virus protection, possibly jeopardizing the security of proprietary data and the corporate network. Security must be tackled on both the hardware and software levels and goes hand-in-hand with considerations like mobile device management, operating system selection and application deployments.
Next on IT’s list of tablet deployment pain points is integration with the organization’s existing IT infrastructure (cited by 64% of respondents). This is closely followed by issues related to mobile device management (60%). The bottom line is this: IT wants tablets that work reliably with core business systems.
Tablets architected for entertainment purposes or for basic communications tasks like reading email or dabbling in social media are not necessarily purpose-built to be deployed in an enterprise capacity, particularly when you factor in organizations’ support for mainstream Windows productivity tools. Along the same lines, they may lack compatibility with mobile device management (MDM) solutions.
Compatibility with the Windows environment is a top consideration for enterprise tablets. In recent years, devices with alternative operating systems have put IT managers into a “troubleshooting” mode versus concentrating on strategic growth, as they’ve struggled to provide management, security, and system integration in a highly fractured environment.
According to the survey, more than two-thirds of respondents believe it is important for tablets to fit comfortably in the Windows world, as most perceive those devices to be easier to support and more user-friendly. Also important to keep in mind – many business-critical applications, especially in certain vertical market segments, are designed specifically with the Windows environment in mind.
Widespread plans among companies to deploy Windows 8 is another important factor for tablet enterprise readiness. More than half of the companies surveyed report that they have deployed or plan to roll out Windows 8, which raises the need for some level of compatibility and integration between enterprise applications and hardware.
Device durability is a must for long-term enterprise use. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed say their tablets have taken a beating just due to normal wear and tear in the office, not to mention the potential damage that can occur when devices are used out in the field in challenging environments.
The most frequently cited reason for tablet damage is drops, a problem reported by 64% of respondents. Other common incidents causing damage to tablets are objects falling or crushing devices (34%), spilled liquids (26%), and heat or cold exposure (16%).
With consumer-grade tablets there’s a good chance the device will need to be replaced if any of these incidents were to occur. And this replacement can be costly; few consumer devices offer warranties that can match those that are available standard on enterprise-grade technology.
Overall Support Costs and Time
In the enterprise, time and money to support technology is a given. However, the survey shows that nearly one quarter of respondents say they are spending more time and money than expected on support. Another 24% are unclear if the time and money committed to supporting consumer-grade tablets is measuring up to expectations. And consider this: Only 14% of the companies surveyed are confident that they are devoting less-than-expected time and resources to the support and management of consumer-grade tablets.
So while tablet usage in the enterprise will most likely continue to rise, the challenge for IT professionals is to weigh their device options and analyze the critical factors that will help to decide if their tablet is enterprise ready.
We recently sat down with Jen McKean, Research Director for IDG Research Services, to review the survey results and discuss what it takes to make a tablet enterprise ready. View the on-demand Webcast here.
In part 1 of this series, we dug into the viability of consumer tablets as professional computing tools, examining limitations around security, durability, reliability and functionality.