Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Bring Tablets to the Workplace

October 30, 2012

Let’s face it, tablets are huge right now. Their sales have skyrocketed in the past two years and consumers are flocking to the newest releases from Google (Nexus 7), Microsoft (Surface tablet), and Apple (iPad Mini). The idea of the tablet has actually been around for quite a while, but the last few years have shown the true potential of these devices. We are seeing iPads given to students in Minnesota schools, and educators are seeing tablets’ value as a tool to make learning fun.

But what about tablets in the workplace? It’s a question that certainly has IT executives intrigued. According to a survey Digital Ad Agency Vertic, enterprise tablet adoption will grow by 50% per year until 2016 and nearly one quarter of the workforce has requested a tablet. Tech sites are already writing articles to help you prepare for the end of the PC era! There’s a real hunger for mobile technology in the workplace, so what’s keeping IT departments from flinging out tablets like they’re free t-shirts at a basketball game?

Let’s take a look at the reasons why IT should (or should not) be introducing tablets to the enterprise:

Pro: Built for Consumption, Flexibility

The key word here is consumption. Tablets, at least right now, are not created to provide a large swath of opportunities to create content. What they are great at doing, however, is making digital consumption an enjoyable process. Mark Basta, a Systems Support Specialist at Advance Beverage Co. in Bakersfield, CA, deployed iPads in his office, and it’s made employees productive round-the-clock. “I’ve seen most people that have them just float along and do work both on the road as well when they’re having a cup of coffee downstairs and don’t want to go back up to their desks.” What’s more, Basta’s co-workers aren’t the only ones enjoying the productivity boost tablets provide. “It’s been pretty nice having the ability to walk around the facility and do things like wireless coverage troubleshooting and survey and be able to have status on all my servers where ever I’m at.”

Pro: Choices aplenty

Whether you’re looking at Apple’s easy-to-learn user interface, Android’s broad suite of apps for developers, or Microsoft’s brand new built-for-enterprise Surface tablet, there are a lot of options for your company to choose from.

Pro: Lower Cost

This could be one of the biggest draws for an IT department. CIO’s looking for ways to reduce costs while working on major deployments may look to tablets. The low cost per unit opens up opportunities to invest in other parts of the department. TechRepublic’s recent blog on tablets suggests IT departments get creative and use tablets and not be afraid to “look for operations areas where a cheap, portable, connected ‘brain’ is the right solution for a computing problem.”

Pro: They’re User-Friendly

Some IT departments fear that the cost and time to train “For me it’s been great because there is little to no learning curve with the iPad,” Basta said. “I’ve had some of our most computer illiterate people pick up an iPad and within weeks they’re showing other iPad users how to do certain things.”

Con: Security Issues

Security may be the biggest risk that keeps your department from using tablets. According to CIO.com the cost of time (and money) to create policies for users, secure access to data and safeguard the devices themselves is a big reason IT executives are wary of tablets. Even if the proper security measures are in place, employees may not be happy with the restrictions. Securing devices while at the same time granting freedom to users is a delicate balancing act.

Con: A Short Refresh Cycle

While computers (especially desktops) can be more easily modified to extend their life cycle, you can’t upgrade a tablet. You’re just stuck on the technology until you buy a new one. The increasingly short refresh cycle of the tablet has even led to some unhappy Apple customers. If you’re going to deploy tablets, be sure you’ve considered the cost to replace them only a couple years down the road.

Con: A Dramatic Change

This may or may not be a con depending on the culture of your company, but people tend to dislike change. And calling the switch from desktops to tablets a big change is an understatement. The loss of the mouse and keyboard, a cornerstone of the office for decades now, is a huge one. This drastic change just might be too much for employees to bear.

What do you think of tablets in the enterprise? Do you favor their use or think they’re not ready to be deployed yet? Tell us what you think in the comments section

Posted By: James Sweeney

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