Tablets enter a new phase of enterprise growth, but challenges remain

by Scott Kraege

April 17 2014

Scott Kraege is the CEO and Co-Founder of MOBI, a Managed Mobility Services (MMS) company that provides corporations with software and services to manage mobility.


"The release of Office for iPad promises to extend the use of tablets beyond consumption."

Tablet adoption in the enterprise is growing at a staggering pace. The CTIA estimates a total of 285 million tablets were in use at the end of 2013, and that number continues to grow, even as the road ahead promises to be bumpy.

While consumer adoption initiated the growth, most believe growth trajectory will be sustained as enterprises add tablets to their approved device portfolios. The initial tablet users in the enterprise were almost always executive users who “had” to have the latest technology.

This procurement process often circumvented the typical policy and approval steps. Tablets haven’t always been available to every level of mobile workers. It wasn’t until the last few quarters when enterprise programs began to relax approved device portfolios and embraced tablet UI/usage.

Also, tablet growth in the enterprise has not been confined to any one specific vertical in the way other multi-functional devices were designed for unique and specific use cases. According to research conducted by Good Technology, adoption has been led by the Financial Services Industry, while Manufacturing and Government show significant evidence in recent adoption. Predictions through 2017 show the tablet trend on a steady incline; however, the landscape of operating system popularity is expected to change according to forecasts by IDC.

As enterprises rely more heavily on tablets, vendors in the emerging managed mobility services market have an insightful perspective. According to Gartner, “Managed Mobility Service (MMS) encompass the IT and process services provided by an external service provider (ESP) that are required to: plan, procure, provision, activate, manage and support mobile devices, network services and mobile applications.”

My company, MOBI, is one of those MMS providers. We manages hundreds of thousands of devices, including tablets, across our customer base. Of our tablet deployments, approximately 70% are iOS tablets and 29% are Android, with Windows accounting for less than 1%.

But according to research conducted by IDC, as more big businesses adopt tablets in the workplace through 2017, the operating system landscape is expected to shift—eventually giving way to a rise in popularity of Windows devices.

In 2013, the market share of Windows tablets was around 3.2%, and is expected to rise to 5.7% this year. By 2017, however, they are expected to account for 10.2% of the tablet market.

Why? Familiarity with Windows interoperability and comfort with the look and feel of Microsoft Office tools may explain the pending rise in popularity of Surface tablets. Further, the striking similarities between current laptop models and Surface tablets are also important to recognize when considering the change in the tablet market share.

Currently, tablets are more useful for content consumption as opposed to content creation, and are rarely seen as a direct replacement for either laptops or cell phones. In most cases, tablets are viewed as incremental devices—meaning they are not intended to replace another device, but simply be used in addition to a laptop and/or mobile device.

However, the recent release of Office for iPad promises to extend the use of tablets beyond mere consumption. As tablets’ wheelhouse of capabilities expands, consequently so does the need for effective security and management of these devices.  

Recently, MOBI hosted a Customer Advisory Board meeting with representatives from five different industries, including telecommunications, healthcare, state government, consumer goods, and chemicals manufacturing.

A general consensus among the members included the notion of Windows’ growth, along with the growth of tablet use overall in the enterprise mobility landscape. Specifically, the need for shared devices among employees in manufacturing/warehouse setting was discussed—a need that favors tablets that allow multiple users to share one device, with personal information still protected via biometrics, passwords, or some other security measure.

With a growing desire for tablets in a number of industries, coupled with the possibility of devices (specifically the Windows Surface) operating in a fashion that could replace laptops, the market will not be diminishing any time soon. As demand continues to grow over the next several years, leading operating systems vendors and cellular carriers will have to battle to stay innovative and maintain relevance amongst enterprise consumers. 

Scott Kraege is the CEO and Co-Founder of <a href="http://www.mobiwm.com">MOBI</a>, a Managed Mobility Services (MMS) company that provides corporations with software and services to manage mobility.
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