Enterprise Ready Tablets

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Enterprise Ready Tablets

by Kirk Woodward

Docid: 00021196

Publication Date: 1802

Report Type: MARKET


Tablet computers, particularly Apple’s iPad, have become frequently used
enterprise appliances. Tablets represent a development in the evolution of
mobile information devices that enable employees – specifically
knowledge workers – to remove the technological constraints that
restricted them to their offices and establish a new era of teleworking in
which physical location is no longer an impediment to personal
performance. Some studies claim that by 2020 tablets will be used by
virtually all employees who use a computer at work. However, other studies
indicate that the tablet market is slowing, facing strong competition from
laptop computers and mobile phones.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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In order to be considered enterprise ready, a tablet should have the
capability of being integrated within the infrastructure of the
enterprise. It should be able to encrypt data and to segregate personal
from enterprise data. Most importantly, it must be manageable remotely,
including the ability to push upgrades and new software to the tablet.

Tablet computers, particularly Apple’s iPad, have become standard
enterprise appliances, representing a logical development in the evolution
of mobile information devices, which enable employees – specifically,
knowledge workers – to remove the technological constraints that once
restricted them to their offices and establish a new era of teleworking in
which physical location is no longer an impediment to personnel

This mobile revolution, which started with the laptop or notebook
computer and progressed to the smartphone, embraced the tablet, which may
be defined from an enterprise perspective as a wireless portable
personal computer that utilizes a touch screen to provide always-on access
to data, applications, and services. However, the market has peaked, and
sales of tablets are now declining in share of computers sold due to
preferences for laptops and mobile phones.

Apple has led in tablet sales with a major share of the consumer
market, but has sold fewer iPads each year since 2013, illustrating
uncertainty about the robustness of the tablet market.

Within the enterprise, the rapid proliferation of tablets and smartphones
continues to raise concerns over:

  • Endpoint and mobile security, which still offer significant
  • Mobile device support, given the range of vendors and models
  • Cost, as employees, who were once allocated a desktop, now potentially
    could receive and have to operate an enterprise desktop, laptop,
    smartphone, and tablet.

Market Dynamics

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Tablets allow business people to do more while not sitting
at their desks, especially now that many software companies make mobile
versions of their applications that can be accessed on a mobile device. According to a survey sponsored by Dell of 1,400 IT
professionals, most people who use tablets at work believe they are at
least 20 percent more efficient at their jobs because of them. It should
be noted that few if any tasks can only be performed by tablets,
creating a window of opportunity for laptops and mobile phones. Figure 1
shows how popular tablets are among different types of employees.

Figure 1. Percentage of Job Types Who Are Proponents of Tablets

Figure 1. Percentage of Job Types Who Are Proponents of Tablets

Source: Dell

The continuing popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the
workplace means that enterprise knowledge workers now are frequently
accustomed to using their own mobile devices. This means that
enterprise IT departments are having to accommodate employees’ personal –
often consumer-grade – smartphones and tablets on enterprise networks. The
proliferation of mobile devices makes device management a primary requirement
for the enterprise.

According to a 2017 study published by Tech Pro Research, 59 percent of
businesses allow people to bring their own tablets into the business, with
another 13 percent expected to allow it in 2018.

With data storage and processing power available via the Cloud, enterprise
employees are less reliant on traditional PC hardware. Also, with more and
more applications being hosted in the cloud, they are less dependent on PC
software as well. What they need, and what a tablet can provide, is a means
to access cloud-based applications over the Internet. This dynamic has
driven the adoption of smartphones, and it drives the adoption of tablets,
which are frequently viewed as smartphones with appropriately-sized screens
– screens large enough to manage and manipulate enterprise applications and
data. However, smartphones are highly competitive, and the size differential
with laptops sometimes is not a deciding factor.

Tablets do offer advantages that laptops and netbooks do not, since tablets
are smaller. Tablets are suitable for
mobile workers who need a small handy device to:

  • Check e-mail
  • Access the Internet
  • Make a sales presentation
  • Tap into enterprise databases
  • Edit documents while on the go
  • Log into web-applications
  • Work remotely in between meetings, while traveling, etc.

A frequently observed situation today is that an employee may maintain
multiple devices for enterprise business, including:

  • A smartphone
  • A desktop for their enterprise office
  • A desktop for their home office
  • A laptop or netbook for processing custom applications (or large
    volumes of data) on the road
  • A tablet

Market Leaders

The market leaders in the enterprise tablet space are Apple, Google, and
Microsoft. Forrester Research predicts that Apple, Google, and Microsoft
will continue their battle for enterprise supremacy over the next few
years. In the tablet market as a whole, the world market leaders are
Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Huawei, and Lenovo.

In total sales of tablets, Apple increased its share in 2017, while the
tablet market in general continued a declining trend present over the past
three years. However, the enterprise tablet market has increased in the
same period of time, one of the few growth areas for tablets. Apple
continues to aim new developments at the enterprise tablet market, but not
all companies are willing to commit to the Apple environment.

Leading market leaders in the enterprise ready tablet field include:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro

  • Apple iPad Pro

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

An area of enterprise ready tablets that continues to show growth is the
category of “rugged” tablets, or tablets designed to withstand harsh
conditions or treatment. Panasonic System Communications Company of North
America (PSCNA) leads the field, which also includes HP and Xplore among
other major vendors. 

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Tablets continue to converge with other technologies. An example is the
“phablet”, which is a hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet. Some of
the most popular phablets available today are the Apple iPhone Plus and
Samsung Galaxy Note series. A phablet typically has cellular voice connectivity
paired with a stylus to leverage the larger screen. Phablet sales figures
are not included in tablet numbers; rather, they are counted as smartphone

Another example of convergence of type is the
Microsoft Surface, which is a cross between a tablet and a laptop. The
Surface and similar devices have detachable keyboards, allowing them to be
used as either kind of device.

Tablets are not finding universal acceptance. While some manufacturers
are proclaiming the end of the PC era, many enterprise consumers are not
convinced, complaining, for example, that:

  • Tablets lack a conventional, i.e., tactile, keyboard. As noted above,
    add-on keyboards are available with some tablets.
  • Tablets are virtually useless without an active Internet connection.
  • Tablets offer an unfamiliar, i.e., not conventional Windows PC,
    operating environment.

As a consequence, tablets will supplement the standard enterprise
employee toolkit, but they will not eliminate the more robust personal
computer or enterprise workstation. Furthermore, hybrid technologies may
eventually make the definition of a tablet a moot point.


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General tablet sales are currently in decline.

Overall tablet shipments fell by 6.5 percent in 2017. This drop reflects
a continuing trend. The impact on enterprise versus consumer adoption is
difficult to quantify, but it is clear that alternatives to tablets,
including laptops and mobile phones, have had a major effect. One reason
may be the perceived need for a dedicated keyboard.

With major vendors experimenting in portable device configuration, it is
possible that tablets, although in the future not in themselves major market
players, may play an important role in the market in modified forms.

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About the Author

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Kirk Woodward is a technical writer and project manager.
His areas of expertise also include enterprise software, hardware systems,
and the use of Internet resources.

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