Survey shows tablet productivity gains, but also flags up room for improvement

Buyers and users of business tablets in Europe report productivity increases of 30 to 33 percent, but over two-thirds remain less than completely satisfied with the tablet experience.
Written by Charles McLellan, Senior Editor

Tablets are now widely used in business, and are delivering tangible productivity improvements. However, there's plenty of scope for improving tablet devices, with users regularly reporting issues such as short battery life, broken screens, and overheating.

These are the headline conclusions of a survey, published today, carried out by Dynamic Markets on behalf of Panasonic Toughpad. A total of 2,362 interviews were carried out, split evenly between tablet users (49 percent) and purchasers (51 percent), across nine EU countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Poland and Benelux).

The tablet population surveyed was heterogeneous, encompassing Windows, Android, and iOS devices. The devices were mostly slates rather than hybrids or convertibles, with screen sizes ranging from 7 to 12 inches.

Overall, 70 percent of European tablet purchasers report productivity improvements in their workforces, with Turkey (80 percent), Russia (79 percent), Italy (77 percent) and Spain (74 percent) leading the way while Benelux (54 percent), Poland (60 percent) and Germany (64 percent) show less enthusiasm. Employers estimate the level of tablet-related productivity improvements to be 33 percent on average, with the UK (44 percent) coming out on top and Germany (27 percent) bringing up the rear.

By contrast, only 41 percent of European tablet users report increased productivity, with Turkey (58 percent), Italy (55 percent), Russia (47 percent) and Spain (47 percent) once again flying the flag. However, the average estimated user productivity increase of 30 percent is similar to the 33 percent figure offered up by purchasers.

As you'd expect from a survey of business tablets, a significant proportion (20 percent) of users connect peripherals to their devices via USB or serial ports, and/or use them for specialist tasks such as GIS (18 percent), bar code reading (13 percent) or taking customer payments (10 percent). Almost a third (29 percent) connect their tablets to a local area network. Interestingly, the countries that reported the highest productivity gains also turn out to be the ones using tablets for the widest range of specialist tasks.


Source: Tablets and the European Productivity Revolution (Panasonic/Dynamic Markets, 2014)


Satisfaction not guaranteed

Not everything in tablet-land looks rosy, though. Over two-thirds (68 percent) of users were either 'dissatisfied' or thought that the tablet experience was 'OK but could have been better' (4 percent and 64 percent respectively), with 86 percent reporting problems with their tablets in the last two years and 77 percent finding fault with their tablets' design or functionality.

The survey's list of specific design/functionality issues is headed by some familiar suspects: battery life too short (37 percent); device damaged too easily (17 percent); device unusable in sunshine (17 percent); and too few interfaces (15 percent).

The survey also revealed the top five criteria used by business buyers in the sample population when selecting a tablet: functionality (69 percent); price (57 percent); ease of use (54 percent); compatibility with business OS (53 percent); and resilience to damage (51 percent). Interestingly, the only EU country not to put functionality at number one was the UK, which focussed primarily on tablet price (66 percent, versus 58 percent for functionality).

Commenting on the survey, Jan Kaempfer, general manager marketing for Panasonic computer product solutions, said in a statement: "As businesses begin to use tablets for ever more sophisticated requirements, there becomes a need for tablet manufacturers to tailor their devices to the different needs of vertical industries and their users. These needs include areas such as hot-swappable batteries, daylight-viewable screens, more rugged tablets and the opportunity to include or attach a range of peripherals and devices, such as cameras, scanners bar code readers and payment options."

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