Not All Tablets Are Fit for Enterprise Use
Many enterprises today have adopted tablet computers for their workforces with the goal of improving efficiency and mobility for professionals of all types. However, until recently the only option widely available for workers was to use off-the-shelf tablets designed for the consumer market. A new study takes a look at how this technology is living up to its promise.
According to a recent IDG Market Pulse survey of InfoWorld readers, sponsored by Panasonic, nearly 25% of respondents whose companies are supporting consumer grade tablets say they are spending more time and money than anticipated on their tablet deployments. Another 24% of respondents are “unclear if the time and money committed to supporting the consumer-grade tablets is measuring up to expectations.”
“As business users put their own consumer-grade tablets to work as part of a BYOD program, organizations are finding that the devices aren’t built to withstand the rigors of professional use,” the InfoWorld whitepaper states. “Watching a movie on an iPad while curled up on the living room couch is a very different use case from dragging a tablet device out to a construction site to take photos in inclement weather.”
The research shows that IT organizations are questioning the long-term viability of consumer tablets as professional computing tools, citing limitations around security, durability, reliability and functionality.
Not surprisingly, the top concern related to supporting tablets has to do with security—an issue cited by 70% of survey respondents.
Most consumer-grade tablets lack features like built-in firewalls, virus protection, trusted boot and root protection, in addition to capabilities to manage fixes and updates across an entire workforce. These capabilities, along with additional management functions, are critical for IT to ensure the performance and security of the corporate network when integrating tablet devices into the enterprise fold.
The IT support expectations for consumer tablets also present challenges, with a great deal of uncertainty around the expected frequency of replacements and repairs.
According to the survey, of those companies providing tablets to workers, most say they expect to replace the units about once every two years and perform repairs every few months. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents say they don’t know what to expect in terms of a repair schedule, and 35% are unclear about a proper replacement strategy. For companies exclusively issuing consumer-grade tablets the levels of uncertainty are even higher.
IT departments are quickly learning that consumer-grade tablets often don’t provide the robust computing platform required for many enterprise applications. This becomes a big problem with the growing demand for support of mainstream Windows productivity tools. In fact, according to the IDG survey, compatibility with the Windows environment is of great importance to IT professionals. More than two-thirds of respondents consider it at least somewhat important for tablets to fit comfortably in the Windows world, as most perceive those devices to be easier to support and more user-friendly.
In order to become a viable replacement for traditional PCs, tablets must be purpose-built with enterprise functionality in mind while being robust enough to take the bumps and bruises that come with extensive mobile use. Built-in security is also essential, as is integration with mainstream productivity applications and operating environments like Windows. It’s a rare IT department that has the time to hold users’ hands through cumbersome install processes or help troubleshoot environments that veer from corporate standards.
Devices like Panasonic’s enterprise-class Toughpad tablets have been architected from the ground up to help enterprise professionals be more productive. Toughpad tablets are engineered not only to withstand the hard knocks of the workplace, but to operate flawlessly in intense sunlight and heat, as well as in dusty and dirty environments, pouring rain and freezing temperatures. The devices also combine data and device security, seamless connectivity, enterprise-level technology and worry-free operation.
With an eye toward durability and reliability, the Toughpad family, with Windows support, gives business users the mobile experience they require without draining IT resources. With this combination, the “promised” future of tablets in the enterprise can be fully realized.
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 2 of this series, we take a look at what it takes to make a tablet enterprise-ready.