The Post-PC Era: Are We There Yet?

As I discuss mobility with IT executives, the conversation invariably turns to the role of the tablet and when and where their peers are finding success with implementation. Hot on the heels of any such discussion, technology professionals want to know where implementation is successful enough to justify complete PC replacement. Being an advocate of mobility, I’m only too happy to discuss these topics and usually bring up the ever-growing importance of worker preferences on all technology, from endpoints to apps to infrastructure.

Tablet initiatives improve mobility success

Worker behavior is increasingly a reflection of their consumer habits, and companies that have already begun significant tablet initiatives point to mobile work enablement as tablets’ primary use case today. Though difficult to quantify in hard dollar figures, benefits that revolve around productivity are laying the foundation for more specific use cases and corresponding adoption.

The intersection between consumer and enterprise is most clearly evident in the popularity and success of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) purchasing models for smartphones. Similarly, the functionality of traditional enterprise PCs and laptops is being eclipsed by tablets. Universally, the immediacy of access and the “coolness” factor of tablets is driving consumer and employee use alike. These use cases – while clearly evident in the enterprise – have proven difficult to track for most companies.

With time, the insights organizations and their employees glean from deployments provide the basis for more focused use cases, so companies can test traditional adoption metrics like return-on-investment (ROI). Companies indicate that tablets contribute directly to salespeople’s success, particularly where they need to demonstrate a product or service quickly.

Meeting the challenge of content creation

While their value proposition is growing rapidly, enabling tablets with the same content-creation capabilities and compute power as PCs is a significant engineering challenge, one that is holding back adoption. In addition to the prerequisite of a robust WLAN infrastructure, technologies that help enterprises bridge the content creation gap between traditional computers and tablets include virtual desktop interfaces (VDI), native apps, and web-based apps. VDI enables employees to remotely access their PC or a virtual PC, but usability is constrained by PC-designed apps on touch-based tablet interfaces.  As companies work to provide their tablet-using employees with content creation tools, vendors are focused on closing the gap between tablet and PC compute power. While next year’s tablets take shape, one trend continues to overshadow the rest:  Organizations with a larger percentage of their employees using tablets for work report higher mobility success than their peers.

How is your organization using the tablet to improve workforce mobility and business productivity? What challenges are holding you back?

Philip Clarke is a widely regarded expert on mobility and is Research Analyst with Nemertes Research where he researches wireless and mobility trends that affect the enterprise. He has written this guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.


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