Tablets in the enterprise? IT has a checklist of needs and concerns

by David Needle

January 24 2012

Cisco-sponsored study broke out enterprise interest and concerns related to tablets across different countries.
Cisco-sponsored study broke out enterprise interest and concerns related to tablets across different countries.

A new survey of 1,500 IT managers and executives released today shows a high level of interest in expanding the use of tablets in the enterprise, but also concerns related to security, access to applications and the so-called BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device to work phenomenon.

While getting the latest cool smartphone at work is a nice perk, tablets are also in high demand, according to a new Cisco-sponsored survey of 1,500 IT managers and executives spread across the U.S. Canada, UK, France, Germany and Spain. Globally, IT departments in the survey said that employees place one tablet request for every three smartphones. 

The U.S. and France led the way with each reporting that a tablet is requested by 21% of the workforce. The survey, performed by Redshift Research late last year, showed that senior executives are most likely to be issued a tablet in the U.S. (38%) and least likely to be issued one in the UK (27%). 

There were some surprises in the results related to security and other issues. 

Despite all the buzz about the BYOD trend, globally almost half of the IT folks responding (48%) said their company would never authorize employees to use their own devices at work. 

“From what we heard, a lot of companies are really struggling with this issue,” said Roberto De La Mora, senior director of UC Platforms and Endpoints for Cisco’s Collaboration Solutions Marketing group. He says the results indicate IT isn’t against BYOD per se, but they see it as a new cost they can’t afford to take on in a time of tight, if not dwindling budgets.

“They don’t necessarily see a big difference in productivity users may get from using their own devices and the company may have to buy additional licenses and worry about security related to products they haven’t been supporting,” says De La Mora. 

On the flip side, De La Mora concedes some IT managers surveyed are “absolutely ecstatic about BYOD.” And even with nearly half opposed, 57% agreed that some employees use personal devices at work regardless of what the company’s policy is. 

Ironically, the country with the most experience managing tablets, the U.S., also ranks first on the issue of security with 75% of U.S. IT managers saying new rules need to be established around security and device usage.

Almost half (48%) of U.S. IT managers also agreed that access to company applications should be restricted for all employees. Globally, three-quarters of IT managers responding said email and document sharing were "must haves" for a tablet. About half agreed or strongly agreed that video conferencing, IM, access to company databases and seamless synchronization with other business devices were desirable features. 

Cisco has it’s own tablet entry, the Cisco Cius

Release of the Cisco report comes at a time when the networking giant hopes to drum up more interest in its Android-based Cius tablet released last August that's designed specifically for enterprise users. 

De La Mora says over 1,100 companies have purchased the Cius, with some buying thousands of units. 

“We built Cius for the way enterprises want to use a tablet and it’s getting good traction in the market,” he said. 

He notes the CIus has a number of IT-friendly features including 24 x 7 support, an AppHQ online store of enterprise apps and the ability to add a private store of a company's own custom apps as well as access to Android Market apps. AppHQ includes administrator controls to regulate what apps users can download. 

“Enterprise grade security built-in, WebEx conferencing built-in and management tools so you don’t need to worry about having to buy a separate mobile management solution,” says De La Mora.

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