While I sat at the airport waiting for my flight to Punta Cana, I read a few articles online, checked out the news, responded to emails, and posted a quick update on Facebook using my BlackBerry Playbook.  It felt so good not to have to tote my laptop on this trip. For years, my bulky laptop had become my carry-on item on my holiday trips.  This meant I had to fit my personal items in a much smaller purse to lighten up the load.

Although I can do the same activities on my BlackBerry® Torch smartphone, because of the form factor and screen size, I find it much easier to read online magazines, respond to emails and catch up on the news using my tablet.  Plus, it saves me from having to stop at the airport newsstand to purchase magazines and newspapers for my trip. My Playbook conveniently fits in my purse and the usability is well worth the investment.

Led by the iPad, consumer sales of tablet devices have skyrocketed…thus helping drive the growth and demand among business users.  According to Infinite Research, tablet shipments to enterprise customers are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% with shipments rising from 13.6 million units in 2011 to 96 million units in 2016. Tablets have revolutionized the media landscape and its rapid adoption in the enterprise will help mobile and remote workers to be more productive and drive value back to the business.

Why the growth of tablet technology in the enterprise? Tablet adoption in the enterprise is happening for a number of reasons:

1. Growing mobile workforce

More and more employees are being asked to travel or work from remote locations. They need to be able to access corporate networks, cloud computing systems, and enterprise applications to better serve the needs of their customers and constituents. Enterprise adoption of tablets is occurring in areas such as Healthcare, Education, Retail, and Financial Services. They are enabling organizations to increase productivity, improve customer service, and save time and money.

Tablets make it easier for physicians making rounds at hospitals to interact with patients, salespeople delivering presentations to share product demos, repair technicians needing to access diagrams and instructions for repairs and sanitation engineers to receive route information in near real-time. Education institutions like Abilene Christian University are using mobile technology such as tablets to transform the classroom and prepare students for the workforce of the 21st century.  According to Gartner Research Vice-President, David Willis, by 2013, 80 percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.

2. BYOD Demand

Companies are being pressured by employees and senior executives to open their networks to consumer devices. The proliferation of these devices has resulted in iPads and other tablets gaining popularity in business settings.  They are using them to access corporate emails, calendars, CRM, and other business resources. According to a report by research firm Strategy Analytics, 61% of U.S. corporations have found that their employees are already using tablets for work purposes, whether they have been formally purchased by the company or not.  IT departments are being force to embrace consumer devices like tablets in the enterprise and must set policies to deliver and secure sensitive corporate information for both employee-owned and corporate-liable devices.

3. Usability

A tablet provides a more streamlined experience for mobile users than laptops and it is more of a computing platform than a smartphone.  It is a great form factor for document editing and perfect for presentations, email, content consumptions and other communications.  A tablet device instantly boots up and is more portable and has a longer battery life than the average laptop.

The tablet revolution has created both a challenge and an opportunity for the enterprise.  They allow organizations to mobilize business processes, and boost employee productivity and efficiency.  However, security is a big concern for IT departments.  With the burgeoning list of devices and the growing fragmentation of operating systems, support is also top of mind. The security issue can be addressed through password enforcement, mobile device management tools, and hardware and data encryption.  IT departments must also figure out how to integrate and support the diverse operating systems seamlessly and economically.

Will tablets replace laptops in the enterprise or are they a companion device?  How are you using your Tablet?  We look forward to hearing from you.