Tablet use in the workplace is ever-increasing, showing how quickly companies are evolving to meet new trends. Employees with always-on connectivity and instant access to information are more committed and productive, as their toolsets become more specialized. With the use of tablets and other mobile devices, an office is far more than just four walls and a ceiling: it can be anywhere from a park bench to a beach or a dining-room table, depending on where the employee is located and which day it is.
As computing hardware has evolved it has become smaller and more portable. No longer are employees performing their jobs exclusively on clunky desktop systems with hefty monitors, nor have they been limited to laptop computers and associated gear such as power cables or mice. Smartphones are helping to get the job done, but limitations in screen size and application capabilities can be an impediment, since reviewing a detailed spreadsheet on a smartphone screen is hardly anyone's favorite task.
Enter the perfect compromise between a tiny smartphone and a bulky laptop: the tablet computer, a flat touchscreen-driven device that can perform an array of tasks such as email, web browsing, communication and more. With screens that can range from seven to twelve inches, storage capacity and processor speeds that compare to desktop computers, and easy-to-use operating systems, tablets are proving a major asset for workers and consumers alike. Application stores and cloud storage providers are helping to pave the way towards a consistent and predictable tablet environment where users have seamless access to the programs and data they need.
According to ABI Research, at the close of 2013, more than 285 million 'big brand' tablets such as Apple or Samsung were in use worldwide. Approximately a quarter of those tablets are in the United States. Forrester Research predicts that 375 million tablets will be in the hands of users by the end of 2016, and that more than half will run the Apple iOS.
Use of tablets in the workplace
This is the era of mobility and it's evident in the results of a survey from Tech Pro Research, ZDNet's premium subscriber sister site. The survey attracted 203 respondents from around the globe, and it touched upon topics including:
In the survey, which was conducted in late January and early February, more than half of respondents said their organizations are buying tablets and providing them to employees. All told, 59 percent of employers supported tablets. However, another 25 percent said they had no official tablet policy, so they are neither allowed nor prohibited. Only 5 percent said that tablets are specifically prohibited from use.
Preferred tablet vendors
Which vendors are preferred? The responses to this question indicate an overwhelming preference for Apple products, which are in use at nearly half of all organizations. Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet also showed up well. However, Android tablets shouldn't be counted out. The fragmentation of the Android market across multiple vendors means no single manufacturer in this field came out strongly ahead, but over a fifth of respondents favored Samsung and Google, two Android leaders. The lesser-known tablet vendors such as Acer, Asus, and LG had zero usage in this survey, showing that the big names are the ones leading the pack at the moment.
The future of tablets
The survey reveals that tablet use in the workplace is still new, with many opportunities and options still available. The survey revealed that tablets are performing many of the same functions as PCs and this is helping to spur their popularity.
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