Tablets May Have a Rough Ride

Apple’s iPad has made a big hit, particularly the newest version. According to a survey from ChangeWave Research, 82 percent of owners are very satisfied with the devices, while an additional 16 percent are somewhat satisfied. That’s even better than the 74 percent very satisfied and 23 percent somewhat satisfied a year ago.

Not surprisingly, those tablets are showing up at work. According to a Forrester Research study, 25 percent of devices used for work are tablets or smartphones. And as anyone with an information systems degree knows, user problems are your problems.

By far the biggest disappointments that users have in their iPads are monetary: device price and cost of wireless data plan were cited by 26 percent and 23 percent respectively. However, IT departments have other concerns. Companies that adopted tablets early on are learning tough lessons about how to incorporate the devices into their operations and infrastructures. Here are the five biggest mistakes companies have faced:

  1. Rolling out devices without a plan. A company would never buy servers or PCs without knowing what they were going to do with them. Unfortunately, that’s what happens in companies. They’ll equip tens of thousands of employees with tablets without a clear view of what should be done with them.
  2. Tablets have big limitations. IT departments often don’t anticipate where tablets can fall short, like users being unable to correctly see files they might need to use. Technology like virtualized desktops that should be a solution may not display correctly.
  3. Apps are scarce. With the hundreds of thousands of apps available for iOS and Android devices, you’d think that companies could find what they needed. Not so. Companies have specific functional needs they need covered. Tablet versions of apps often don’t have the full capabilities of PC software, even when the right software is available. Creating custom apps requires significant resources.
  4. The cost of replacement. The entry cost of a tablet seems inexpensive. But the devices are nowhere near as mature as PC-style laptops or desktops. Products change far more significantly every year or two than PCs typically do and upgrading a tablet is typically impossible. Companies have to upgrade more frequently to keep abreast of what the devices can do. Plus, a tablet often means a separate wireless service account, which can double or more the annual cost of a tablet.
  5. Security is hard. Tablets need protection as much as desktops or laptops because they can contain important data, but they don’t have the same depth of security tools and processes of traditional personal computers. Using tablets means researching and deploying the devices to employees in such a way as to not create new weaknesses.

Tablets can be a fine strategic move for a corporation. But to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs, properly consider what introducing the devices will actually mean.

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Collaborating between technology and informatics "Bytes", American Sentinel's technology blog, addresses topics affecting the information technology, health care and informatics industries, highlighting changes and analysis on the technology industry.

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