Gartner Advises CIOs to Embrace Tablets

By Lance Whitney April 08, 2011

As the iPad and other media tablets increasingly pave their way into the corporate world, Gartner is advising chief information officers to embrace tablets and explore how they can help the business.

In a new report, Gartner research VP David Willis does point out that many CIOs and companies looking at tablets already have been trying to avoid the mistakes that they made with smartphones—seeing them as toys or “status symbols” rather than as business tools. Willis argues that this mistake among many businesses allowed their competitors to take advantage of the benefits that mobile devices and mobile apps provide.

And with the ongoing consumerization of IT, companies don’t necessarily need to supply tablets or other devices that employees want to their jobs, noted Willis. But they do need to not only allow for their use but take advantage of it.

Of course, allowing for their use also means that IT needs to figure out how to secure and manage these devices as they are tapping into business and network resources. Companies that have determined how to support and secure products like the iPhone are better able to adopt similar strategies to deal with the flurry of iPads and tablets reaching their shores. But still, Willis argues that tablets do demand a new set of policies and skills for IT departments given the task of supporting them.

Ultimately, those companies that adroitly deal with this onslaught of tablets and other consumer devices can find value in them.

"The iPad, and the larger wave of media tablets, has captured the imagination of business leaders,” Willis said. “Some companies have issued them to business and IT leaders in the spirit of exploration. Others see areas in which they can use media tablets to bring computing into settings that were not practical or were too cumbersome to use traditional approaches. For the consumer, the iPad brought a casual but rich experience into the living room, or the train, or while waiting in line at the bank. In turn, IT organizations are finding new places where tablets can deliver information and media in new ways."

The analyst doesn’t see the tablet as a replacement for laptops or smartphones but rather as a supplement. Devices like the iPad lets people get to the information they need quickly rather than waiting for a PC to boot up. They offer solid battery life and are in Willis’s words “responsive, tactile, and inviting.” But the analyst makes a good point by saying that at the end of the day, workers are likely to power up their laptops to do the heavy-duty work of entering data or creating content.

As I discussed in a previous column, devices like the iPad have make a significant dent into the business world as part of the growing consumerization of IT. And they’re not going away. So it’s incumbent on everyone from CIOs to IT staffers to figure out not only how to support these devices but also determine how they can benefit the business and their users.

Willis will share more of his thoughts on tablets in the business world at a webinar scheduled for Wednesday, April 13.

Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page

Edited by Janice McDuffee

Journalist, IT Consultant, Web Developer

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