Take One Tablet And Call Your IT Manager In The Morning
January 30, 2012 Jenny Thomas
The explosion of tablets is enough to give even the most savvy IT managers a splitting headache. Almost everyone would agree tablets are cool, and those lucky enough to own one can’t say enough good things about them, but the introduction of tablets into the workplace raises legitimate concerns about security and application access.
Cisco Systems recently commissioned a global survey of IT managers and executives in a wide variety of global companies of all sectors and sizes to assess attitudes, fears, and hopes for tablets in the workplace. All 1,500 of the respondents were either primary IT decision makers or play a key role in the decision process for all IT products. The survey, which included companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain, revealed that 2012 is seen as a year in which enterprise-grade tablet computing will undergo significant change.
Starting with a global overview, the survey found IT managers universally agree that custom tablet applications would benefit their business. Further, three-quarters of IT managers indicated email and document sharing are “must-have” features, and about half agreed or strongly agreed that other desirable features included video conferencing, instant messaging, access to company databases, and seamless synchronization with other business devices.
The problem is that most of the tablets found in the workplace are not provided by the company, but are instead brought from home by employees. Just over half–51 percent–of the respondents reported the number of employees bringing their own devices to work is on the rise. And while globally 48 percent of the surveyed IT managers said their company would never authorize employees to bring their own devices, 57 percent agreed that some employees use personal devices without consent.
The “bring your own device” to work phenomena creates some huge problems for IT managers charged with protecting company data. Access to company servers by tablet users on their personal devices was cited as the top worry, and lost/stolen devices was brought up by 64 percent globally of respondents as a new concern for IT managers.
The use of personal devices without consent was reported to be the highest in the U.S. at 64 percent, and the lowest in Germany at 49 percent. So it makes sense that it was the IT managers in the U.S. who ranked security issues as the number one concern with tablets in the workplace, with 75 percent of them agreeing new rules must be established around security and device usage. (The survey also noted that the U.S. is the country with the most experience managing tablets.)
Overall, 48 percent of all IT managers surveyed agreed that access to company applications should be restricted for all employees. Canada and the U.K. were the top countries in wanting to see restricted access on tablet form-factor device.
It wasn’t as clear who are the top users of tablets in the workplace. Of the countries surveyed, the U.S. and France each reported tablets were being requested by 21 percent of the workforce. Senior executives, at 38 percent, were found to be are most likely to be issued a tablet in the U.S., and least likely to be issued one are executives in the U.K,, at 27 percent.
Tablets were reported to be significantly more prevalent among salespeople in Germany, at 31 percent, than in all other countries, which found 21 percent on average of salespeople using tablets. Spain topped the list of countries predicting the influx of tablets in the workplace; with 90 percent of IT managers believing the tablet will become more popular in the next two years.
The rise of tablets has not gone unnoticed by IBM, which last month rolled out eight new apps designed to address enterprise-class requirements on tablets. The apps include software for social networking, real-time collaboration, and online meeting capabilities, and are available from popular application stores.
While enthusiasm for tablets is skyrocketing, it is interesting to note that the survey found IT departments around the globe reported employees place one tablet request for every three smartphone requests. Even so, with the proliferation of tablets in the market, it is safe to assume while smartphones might be leading in numbers, tablets are gaining ground and here to stay.