The challenges and best practices for deploying tablets in the enterprise

Tablets are ever more prevalent in the workplace, and while they are not usually a replacement for a desktop or laptop, their capabilities provide opportunities for organizations to update and change their business processes, according to global analyst firm, Ovum.

In a recent market report, it was found that as the market for tablets grows, usage of these devices is contributing to a change in the way people work and having a noticeable impact on the enterprise. Whether through corporate provisioning or “bring your own device” (BYOD), fast increasing numbers of tablets are being used to access corporate data and applications.

“Coupled with imaginative thinking around how mobile apps could provide new or improved processes in specific roles, tablet deployments have the potential to change the way that businesses operate,” says   Richard Absalom, analyst for Consumer Impact Technology at Ovum and author of the report. “The primary challenge for the enterprise is to turn tablet usage into a genuinely transformative deployment, taking into account but not just reacting to demand from employees that are bringing their own tablet or want to be provided with one.”

Ovum’s multi-market employee survey, conducted in 2Q13, found that 17.6 percent of employees had already been provided with a tablet by their employer, up from 12.5 percent in 2012. Of respondents that owned a personal tablet, 69.7 percent used that device at work. The number of personal tablet owners increased from 28.4 percent in 2012 to 44.5 percent in 2013. Given this growth, a fast increasing number of personally owned tablets are also being used at work.

“Even given the immaturity of the platform, tablet usage is fast becoming common practice in the enterprise, whether through BYOD or corporate provisioning,” according to Absalom. “Although increasing numbers of employees are being provided with a tablet by their employer, the primary route for tablets into the enterprise is through the consumer/employee channel. Almost 70 percent of employees who personally own a tablet use them for work”

Absalom suggests, “The first step to a successful tablet deployment is to understand employee behaviour and activity. Employees are using multiple devices to access corporate data and content, and any tablet or mobility strategy must be set in this context.”

Providing access to corporate data and applications should not come at the expense of data security, but it is also vital that a secure solution does not come at the expense of user experience. Doing so can ultimately be counterproductive as it turns users off from using the approved device or application and leads to them finding their own way of working – one of the primary drivers of BYOD in the first place.

“Whatever strategy an enterprise opts for, given the fast pace of change in the market and an environment where employees are using personally owned tablets regardless of their employer’s official IT policy, generating ROI ultimately depends on getting deployments up and running quickly and understanding what does and does not work,” concludes Absalom.