Enterprise software vendors are taking the slate user market seriously but not all of their applications are "equally usable or functional" and will need to be modified to better fit the mobile platform.
David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a statement released Wednesday: "Major software vendors are taking the tablet seriously and embracing the market, following where users want to take the platform."
However, he noted that not all tablet-versions of business software will provide the same level of usability and functionality as their desktop counterparts. "Success lies in how the vendor re-factors the apps in a meaningful way, rather than just duplicating the traditional desktop or browser experience," Willis said.
Organizations that deploy tablets will also need to understand the difference between an enterprise and a consumer software and have a decision framework to select suitable applications, he added.
"Not all tablet apps are created equal from an enterprise perspective," the Gartner analyst explained. "Businesses must evaluate tablet apps based on functionality and business process integration, user factors, systems integration, management and security, application architecture and vendor viability."
According to Willis, the first wave of business applications available on commercial app stores were focused on productivity, were inexpensive and allowed users to experiment liberally. The second wave will focus on manageable and secure enterprise applications that support major business initiatives, he said.
Gartner listed what it described as the top 10 business application categories for tablet devices:
- Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations, and ordering systems;
- Business intelligence, encompassing analytical and performance applications with management dashboards;
- Compartmentalized e-mail to separate corporate messaging environments from personal e-mail;
- Collaboration applications for meetings;
- File utilities for sharing and document distribution;
- General corporate or government enterprise applications for CRM (customer relationship management ), ERP (enterprise resource planning), SCM (supply chain management) and messaging;
- Medical support systems for doctors, nurses and physical therapists;
- Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments;
- Social networking applications with intelligent business insight; and
- Board books for secure document and report distribution.
A July IDC report predicted that unit shipment of media tablets in the Asia-Pacific region alone would reach 21 million units by 2015.
Willis noted that as more consumers buy these slate devices, they will bring them into the workspace and use them for their jobs, with executives driving this trend. "Leaders are finding legitimate business use and redefining processes for 'ready at hand' moments where other computer types are not as well adapted," he said.