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April 7, 2011

Tablets not yet hitting enterprises in a big way

Sales and niche uses seem to be the winners at the moment

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Despite all the hype it appears that tablets, led by Apple’s iPad, are not yet having a huge impact on businesses, according to a number of customers at Alcatel-Lucent’s Dynamic Tour 2011 event held in Barcelona.

Apple's iPad tablet

Usage at this stage tends to focus on the sales department, with executives using it as a presentation tool in the hope of wooing clients, the conference heard.

Alcatel-Lucent highlighted the example of Mercedes-Benz, which is handing tablets out to the sales team at dealerships; they use tablets to show financing options and product demonstrations to potential car buyers. Wells Fargo is also using tablets to enable workers in its branches to run through products on offer.

Kevin Panozza, CEO of Engage, an Australian call centre firm, said that the recently-released second generation iPad would push his company towards using them for presentations. "The iPad 2 will run keynote presentations, which the first one didn’t, so we’ll be using them for presentations."

One industry that is innovating on use of tablets in the workplace is healthcare. Gary Horn, director, enterprise architecture and network security at Chicago-based Advocate Health Care said he is seeing usage throughout his business, to the extent that PCs may become a thing of the past… almost.

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"We’re seeing clinicians, doctors, pretty much anybody who has a need to communicate back to some system within the company," Horn explained. "We’re seeing a couple of trends over the next few years. We don’t expect that people will use desktop PCs in the company anymore and we’re also going to launch an offer to our associates that lets them bring their own devices to work."

Expanding on the last point, which has risen up the corporate agenda recently, Horn explained that the company will put a few rules in place to keep control over personal devices. "We have a few standards that you’ll need to follow: It needs to be either Android- or Windows-based but apart from that we don’t really care. All the security and applications is on the back-end. That will have a significant impact on our cost model, we won’t have to go through the product lifecycle of PCs anymore, and it will increase customer satisfaction and efficiency."

He added that only a few use-cases for PCs may remain, such as in the radiology department.

These examples seem to go against what Forrester predicted toward the end of last year. "iPad has exploded onto the scene," wrote Ted Schadler, the report’s author. "Who could have imagined that a tablet (a category introduced in 2001) would capture the imagination of employees and IT alike? These post-PC devices will find a place in your company, but where?"

Schadler predicted three uses for iPads: Displacing a laptop; replacing something along the lines of a clipboard to reduce the use of paper at a company and finally a new usage scenario, where a company is currently using nothing.

"This is potentially the most interesting and valuable category of all. Computers have found their way into many non-traditional places: classrooms, conference rooms, couches, and coffee shops, for example. This includes doctors using iPads to write orders in surgery or access patient records in the examination room," Schadler wrote, backing up the usage of tablets that Advocate Health Care’s Gary Horn talked about.

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