Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

Summary: Tablets are almost always a supplemental device for SMBs, helping employees stay more closely connected to work issues. The downside is that few companies protect tablets adequately.


The use case for supporting tablet computers within a small or midsize business is increasingly compelling from a productivity standpoint. I can say this with my gut because I rely on one myself to pare down my email frequently throughout the weekends and in the evenings, but I also happen to have backup evidence from two different surveys that I skimmed over the Labor Day weekend.

It makes me wonder how many thousands of those Hewlett-Packard TouchPads that have been on fire sale for the past few weeks have been purchased by small businesses that -- given the rock-bottom purchase price of $99 -- don't really care what happens when they break down. I don't want to suggest that they are "disposable" but they sure are cheap at that price, so what do you have to lose?

Here's the thing: Even though the latest generation of tablets have been around roughly 18 months since the introduction of the Apple iPad, almost 40 percent of small and midsize businesses have begun to adopt them, according to annual research on technology adoption trends by CompTIA, a technology trade organization. The research, which was released in July 2011, listed the following as the Top 6 uses:

  1. Light work while traveling (68 percent)
  2. Capture notes during meetings (54 percent)
  3. Making presentations, in lieu of laptop (52 percent)
  4. Point of sale transactions (50 percent)
  5. Demo a product (47 percent)
  6. Communications, in lieu of a smartphone (44 percent)

The base for the CompTIA data is interviews with 390 small and midsize businesses planning to use tablets.
The CompTIA research dovetails with data from Staples Advantage (which sells technology to business accounts) showing that approximately 80 percent of tablet users report having a better "work/life balance" as a result of using a table. There were approximately 200 tablet users surveyed for these results. Here are the primary purchase motivators:

  • Increased productivity (60 percent)
  • Staying connected to colleagues or clients (40 percent)
  • Easy to use because of its portability (90 percent)

Almost all of those surveyed are using tablets in conjunction with another device, not as the primary device.
The downside of tablets, of course, is security. When I chatted with Ed Ludwigson, vice president and general manager of Staples Technology Solutions, he said only about one-third percent of tablet users apparently are taking adequate steps to back up the data on the device. Fewer than 15 percent of them have either encryption or antivirus software on the device, he said.
SMBs need to pay more attention to tablet access control; Staples advocates using cloud-based applications so that data actually isn't downloaded to the device itself. That way, if it is lost, the potential damage is minimized, Ludwigson said.
The other downside to tablets, in my mind, is that you wind up working around the clock instead of during predefined hours. Then again, that's probably what most SMBs hope. As someone who MUST keep up with email, I am willing to live what that tradeoff.
See also:

Topics: Laptops, CXO, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

    That number suggests that 44% of the market are buying 3G connected devices.
  • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

    I just got a $829.99 iPad2 for only $103.37 and my mom got a $1499.99 HDTV for only $251.92, they are both coming with USPS tomorrow. I would be an idiot to ever pay full retail prices at places like Walmart or Bestbuy. I sold a 37" HDTV to my boss for $600 that I only paid $78.24 for. I use
  • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

    I think the tablet explosion in business is self fulfilling....for instance, how many people, when being completely honest, came up with an excuse (like I did) to get a tablet for work because.....I need to support people getting a tablet for work. When in reality, I thought it was cool and wanted one to play games on and watch movies....I found a business justification....although, in retrospect is pretty weak right now, because they really aren't work machines. You have to try pretty hard to use them for productivity purposes.
    • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

      @gomigomijunk Guilty as charged!<br><br>While I am getting a lot of use out of my Acer A500, I agree with you that it was more of a justifiable tech toy than a real need.<br><br>On the other hand, it is probably the perfect device for my wife who is a dance teacher as it makes a really great mp3 player and the big screen is much easier to use in class. The ability to take and show video of students is also useful. Guess what, she can't see enough advantage to trade her netbook for a tablet.
    • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

      @gomigomijunk Oh, good. I'm not the only one. I have an iPad, but I spend more timing gaming and watching Netflix on it than I do working. When I want to get work done--REAL work--I use a full-fledged computer. I take my iPad with me when I travel, but I also take a netbook and/or notebook.
  • You can do work on a tablet?

    Their neat for looking at stuff but actually doing work? Maybe paper shuffling but <i>real</i> work?<br><br>Those of us who make product don't see those 6 uses as much, but then we aren't office dwellers.
  • I don't think you get it.

    The real downside on most peoples minds is that most tablets don't run Windows, so Office and LOB apps just plain aren't compatible. Everything you do is a "workaround".

    Look, SMB IT folks don't want to have to train users on some kind of tablet usage scenario that doesn't look like Office, or mangles files, just so a worker might have "more fun" than when they use their PC.

    If you want real productivity from workers, you'll get them a system that works the same as when they're at their desk, and desk workers aren't using Android or iOS.

    Sorry, this isn't meant to demonize you, but journalists usually don't understand this. They are usually on top of all manner of technology, and how it changes, but businesses rarely are, and its employees are almost never.

    When Windows 8 arrives, IT people will have hardware that will work as a lightweight slate mobile tablet, AND as a full PC when docked at the users desk with a fullsize keyboard, mouse, and monitor, the way a mobile environment should work. There is no difference in the software capabilities between desk work and mobile work, and this is the simplicity that IT admins are looking for.

    If an enterprise is also using VDI, then that doesn't change between desktop and mobile operating modes either - the system is still locked down. I have yet to see any appreciable level of control that IT can place on Android tablets though, and iOS still leaves a lot to be desired. Also, there is no offline Windows computing on either platform when you rely on RDP or VNC. Which is more cost-effective: giving someone a Windows device with a copy of Office, or giving them an iPad with Documents-to-Go to work on their Office documents while on the road and having to train them on a second office suite?
    • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

      @Joe_Raby I agree that many people need a Windows tablet instead of a Honeycomb tablet, the reason is legacy Windows applications like Photoshop/Gimp, MS Office/Lotus Symphony, Encarta Encyclopedia, VideoLAN/iTunes/Real Player, Windows Movie Maker/aviDemux don't run in Honeycomb tablets. There are a few tablets out there which use Windows like the Acer Iconia W500, the ASUS EP121 but these are expensive because of the taiwaneese currency. We would have better tablets with Dell, HP, Toshiba or Sony brands, but they don't sell tablets with Windows for now. When windows 8 arrives, I'm sure Acer and Asus current tablets will work fine with the new Windows 8 OS, since they have dual core CPU, 2GB of memory and 32 GB SSD disk, and these will be the minimum requirements for Windows 8 to run.
      Gabriel Hernandez
      • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

        <ul><i>legacy Windows applications like Photoshop/Gimp, MS Office/Lotus Symphony, Encarta Encyclopedia, VideoLAN/iTunes/Real Player, Windows Movie Maker/aviDemux don't run in Honeycomb tablets.</i></ul><p>They aren't going to run under Windows 8 on an ARM chip either. People seem to think that having "Windows" is going to magically re-compile the tens of thousands of legacy Windows apps to run on a new chip architecture. That's not gonna happen. When people finally figure out that it's not gonna happen -- and for many that won't be until after they've bought a Windows tablet -- they are going to feel that they were misled.
        Robert Hahn
    • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets


      You don't need Windows, in order to use word processor, spreadsheet or presentation software. Most such software can read/write files that are compatible with similar desktop software, be it from Microsoft or not.

      When talking about productivity, a document produced in Word (Microsoft), or in Pages (Apple) or in OpenOffice (Sun/Oracle) is just as valuable, because it is the content that matters, not the producing software.

      If you can do some work on a tablet, it doesn't matter who made the tablet. Much as you don't care who is the manufacturer of the bus, train or the plane when you use it.

      People will be more productive, if they stop being used as weapons in the battle for more market by those companies.
  • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

    People that have Blackberry Playbooks are using them every day to be more productive.
    John Hanks
  • For what they're good for, the prices are outrageous,

    and for a good tablet, that can do what the article states they're being used for, the price should be $300 and below.

    There is no doubt that tablets can be used for the simple tasks where a computer is not needed, but, those feature-limited tablets shouldn't cost the same as a computer and often more. Catching up with your e-mail does not justify paying $500 or more for a device whose advantages are just mobility and not bulky and lightweight.

    Ideally, a $200 tablet can do what the article mentions, and even lower-priced tablets will be doing the same type of work in the future.
  • RE: Don't underestimate work productivity credentials of consumer tablets

    Cloud computing is basically adopted for its cost saving features, but companies on the sell-side of the deal are experiencing soaring profits this article is the review of a released report which claims that channel partners within the IT industry are benefiting from cloud computing as they can sell this new technology to companies. Due to a larger variety of products their revenues have increased significantly.