To maximise business benefits of tablet PCs, CIOs must start addressing issues now…
Businesses need to have plans in place to deal with the influx of tablet devices into the workplace likely to take place over the next few years.
A Forrester Research report predicts a growing use of tablets by executives in place of files or documents and by mobile professionals instead of laptops, as well as for tasks such as stock checking in shops and accessing information on site visits.
Forrester Research expects RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook to match Apple's iPad in terms of securityPhoto: RIM
If CIOs and their teams are to maximise the benefits of tablet PCs, they will need to address a number of issues, according to Forrester Research.
The analyst house says CIOs need to plan their tablet strategy and has outlined the areas they need to tackle.
IT departments first need to identify the benefits that tablet PCs could bring to ensure the business will actually get value from introducing them into the organisation.
Forrester said the business benefits of tablet PCs include portability and connectivity, broad application portfolios, better text input and email than smartphones and unobtrusiveness in meetings.
As part of working out how tablets might fit into the organisation, CIOs will also need to determine if tablets will replace PCs or whether they'll complement existing devices.
Forrester suggests tablets can't replace all the productivity tools found on PCs, so these devices will only replace PCs for a few people in the coming year. Most employees will use a tablet as a third device, according to the report.
So CIOs need to work out how tablets are likely to be used in the organisation and build business cases on that basis.
CIOs will also need to determine which tablet devices to support. Forrester Research predicts that the iPad's dominant market share is likely to remain due to the imminent arrival of the iPad 2 and the device being considered safe for business use in terms of security - something the analyst house also expects from RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook.
Another factor that makes the iPad the main tablet businesses need to be concerned about is that its competitors currently have at least one weakness. These weaknesses include poor battery life, limited app stores, being late to market and lacking Apple's distribution network.
Tablet security will need to be looked at and IT departments will need to consider how much data to store on the devices themselves and how much to store elsewhere for devices to access.
CIOs also need to think about how to manage enterprise application stores, how the organisation can move existing applications onto tablets and how to develop their own tablet-specific apps.
Supporting the use of personal tablets at work, integrating unified communications and dealing with greater pressure on wireless networks are also issues that will need to be considered.