Tablets as secondary computers for the enterprise

Tablets are going to the office in greater numbers as time progresses. Enterprises struggling with how to make them work should perhaps keep the desktops and incorporate tablets as secondary devices.

iPad in Tie
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

In some companies tablets are all over the place, and they often fill primary computing roles for workers. That doesn't work in all cases, as the desktop and/or laptop still rules the office. Those companies wanting to go mobile may be struggling to figure out how to bring tablets in, as workers like them, and often they can increase productivity at a low cost.

When those in charge of corporate PC deployments think about tablets, it's often in the role of a primary computer. The strategy is considered to have tablets replace the aging desktops and laptops. History has shown that it's good business to have one computer per employee, and that's the approach usually taken.

For some companies, it makes better sense to bring tablets in to augment the existing computer infrastructure. This is especially appropriate for those enterprises implementing a BYOD program. That allows easing the tablet in without stressing the existing environment.

Tablets are famous as consumption devices, and believe it or not this works well for most offices. When we think of consumption on a tablet we think of music, video, and the like, but it also pertains to documents and databases.

Tablets are perfect for workers to have a look at the latest quarterly numbers for example, and to communicate thoughts about them. The onscreen keyboard is adequate for making small changes to work documents, and other light editing duties. 

See related:  Microsoft Office: Enabling the iPad to do 'real work' Office for the iPad: It's all about the enterprise The ABCs of BYOD for the SMB

Field representatives can have the PC in the office for doing real work, and a tablet when they hit the road. Sales reps in particular find tablets to be great for accessing price databases in the office, while sitting in front of a customer's desk. This is the perfect scenario for the tablet as a secondary computer.

I've long been an advocate of using a tablet with a keyboard as a laptop replacement, but that's not a good solution for many. For those folks (and companies), the tablet is meant to be used in the hands, consuming content. The secondary role is good for these folks, as the primary PC back in the office is a fallback for them.

Not being thrust in the position to get everything done on a tablet helps ease those workers resistant to change into using the slate. The more they use the tablet for work tasks, the more likely they are to end up doing quite a bit with them.

Tablets are very personal by nature, and it's not uncommon for those new to the form to take to them. These employees may end up being more productive with the tablet than without. This could lead to a greater role in the enterprise for tablets down the gray carpeted road.

In summary, it may be easier to get workers to buy into using the tablet if it's not expected to be the only computer. Let employees continue to use the full computer in the office, and ease into using the tablet outside. You may be surprised how quickly they adopt the tablet to fill a greater role in their work effort.