Enterprise mobility has stalled. Beyond rudimentary support for browser-based applications, the majority of enterprises have not advanced beyond the early smartphone paradigm, creating a glaring gap between the utility of enterprise and personal mobile utility. Tablets — which have enjoyed enormous consumer success as consumption devices — have fared even worse than smartphones. Gigaom’s 2013 IT Buyers Survey revealed that despite massive popularity with consumers, tablets are continuing to struggle to find a place in the enterprise.
Hardware and software vendors are doing their best to redefine the tablet as a more productive device for content creation. Device manufacturers are experimenting with new form factors, expansion ports, and data input methods. Traditional software vendors such as Microsoft have extended productivity apps to mobile operating systems, and are now competing with a number of mobile-only and mobile-first competitors.
The tablet is a hybrid device occupying the space between laptop and smartphone, but within that narrow gap it has the potential to outperform its competition. The most successful use cases for tablets involve mobility and collaboration, from purpose-built collaboration applications to vertically integrated application environments to role-based application suites that provide broad coverage for a specific employee. Rather than force tablets to fit an existing horizontal use case, businesses should look for targeted applications such as these to extend their journey into mobility.
Key highlights from this report include:
- Tablets will never be primary content creation devices, but have the potential to offer supplementary collaborative experiences that can surpass those of a smartphone or laptop.
- The lack of strong input will continue to hamper adoption of tablets until vendors can establish a clear value propositions for mainstream enterprises.
- Collaboration (both online and in-person) is the tablet’s killer app.
- Retail and health care are the industries making the most productive use of tablets, and Asia is an exciting center of innovation in enterprise mobility. Businesses should look to these industries and regions for inspiration.
- IT should not be afraid to look past the traditional iPad form factor to meet specific use cases.