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Don't think that tablets are ready for the enterprise? Think again.
The tablet market may still be a young one, but it is one that is rapidly becoming very relevant to enterprise IT. How are enterprises using tablets today and what should they be doing to enable tablet use in the future?
Gartner Research Vice-President, David Willis detailed his views during a live webcast event this week. According to Willis, by 2013, 80 percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.
Willis noted that tablets fulfill a different need within an enterprise than notebooks or smartphones.
According to Willis, tablets are useful for their instant on access capabilities and for use cases where a user doesn't want to bother waiting for a laptop to boot up. He added that top use cases for tablets include usage for document and video delivery, sales, field service and business analytics.
Willis noted that there is a misconception that tablets are consumption-only devices.
"In truth there are apps for forms, so for anyone walking around with a clipboard, you can bring a tablet into areas where you wouldn't' think of using a laptop," Willis said.
In a small Gartner study of how people use device, Willis noted that with tablets there is an average duration of about seven minutes per use. Tablets are also used often, as many as 12 times per day.
He added that though tablets are not just for consumption, they're not fit for the all the same use cases as laptops. Willis said that many users are taking the tablets out into the field for presentations and data collection. But at the end of the day, those users are doing more content creation and detailed work on their laptops, with keyboard and mouse.
The tablet also is not a replacement for a smartphone. That said, Willis said that Gartner does see tablets taking time away from both smartphone and laptops usage and and that represents an opportunity for people who are building tablet apps.
Popular enterprise tablet apps include remote desktop apps as well as group collaboration apps and personal productivity tools. Willis added that he is now seeing CRM, ERP and business intelligence apps beginning to be deployed on tablets as well.
Enterprise business apps are not quite the same as the desktop enterprise apps they are often based on.
"The model tends to be, break apart very large systems and business process and look specifically at mini-process that you can target with an application," Willis said. "
The market for those mobile apps is a large one. According to Willis, by end of 2012 the installed base of web and application capable mobile devices, including tablets will be more that double the install base of desktops.
Willis noted that Apple's iPad currently holds the lead in the tablet market and he expects that Apple will continue to dominate well into 2014. That said, Willis added that for enterprise application developers Android is an important platform since the total base of mobile activations on Android is larger.
Instead of just focusing on developing purely native application for each individual tablet operating system, Willis suggests that HTML 5 is a great equalizer. HTML 5 is the next generation web standard and is supported by both Google's Chrome as well as Apple's Safari web browsers.
"We can't view HTML 5 as the ultimate panacea for cross platform application, but we do think it will help," Willis said.