The tablet I want might not be what my employer wants--and that might not matter all that much.
We've seen more than a few CIOs talking about tablets rather than laptops for their users. That's gotten me thinking: Exactly what would I want in a tablet? I have a good laptop courtesy of my employer, and I have an iPad that I bought myself.
With simple email and calendar connectivity, the iPad now replaces my laptop on one- and two-day business trips, but it's not quite where it needs to be to be a full replacement. Here's what it still needs. First, the easy stuff.
-- The iPad's screen resolution should be higher, full HD--say, 1920 x 1028. The visible screen should take up another inch or so of the surface area--11-inch diagonal is fine. Both enhancements would be appreciated by eyeballs that have spent more than 30 years staring at computer screens.
-- It'll need more solid state local storage--north of 300 GB is fine. Let's keep it encrypted. It also needs a file system that's more accessible than the iPad's; complex document composition requires that.
-- Of course, it has to multitask, turn on instantly, and run the basic business utilities, including document, presentation, spreadsheet, and graphics/picture editing. All those apps need to run locally, not in a browser. I don't care if Microsoft makes the apps, but the apps need to read and write compatible file formats.
-- Email and calendar are musts, and the browsers need to be HTML5-compliant. Flash and other standards would be nice.
-- In terms of processor speed, if I can take a video call while an HD movie is streaming, both on encrypted channels, that's probably enough for anything I'd use it for. Is that single core, dual core, or quad? I couldn't care less.
-- Cameras on each side of the tablet are nice, though I'd be tempted to award points for not having a camera pointing at me. I have a face made for radio, as they'd say in the good ol' days.
-- The battery life should let me work pretty constantly for about 12 hours. Overall, the tablet needs to weigh no more than 24 ounces.
-- The list of connectivity requirements are long but not out of the ordinary. It'll have high-speed Wi-Fi, of course, LTE, of course--with fallback to lesser standards as needed.
-- It needs to be a great phone, supporting both personal and work numbers simultaneously. For the phone, it'll be a Bluetooth headpiece.
-- For desktop productivity, the tablet should support wireless monitors and keyboards; mice too, I suppose, though the pad itself is a pretty good pointing device. Printers, cameras, projectors, and other such devices should all connect wirelessly, seamlessly, and at full resolution. There's lots of work going on for very-high-speed personal area networks, so none of this is unreasonable.
Here's the potentially unreasonable part, at least from IT's point of view: I don't want my employer owning this thing. I want to own it, and I want to carve out a virtualized portion of my space for the company, not the other way around. That, I believe, is a significant part of what makes the iPad so appealing to executives.
On my corporate BlackBerry, I've practically worn the letters off typing and retyping my password--probably a good hint to would-be thieves. I'm not complaining; IT should set the policy around its data and, therefore, on its devices. But that sure wouldn't be a policy I'd set for my data. And what I want is one set of devices--one smartphone and one tablet that are the center of all things I do that need or want computer connectivity.
If you divide a day roughly into thirds for work, sleep, and personal life, mobile connectivity is now just as useful in my personal life as it is in my work life, so I want a choice as to who runs the show on that device. I pick me. My sense is that your user community is going to feel the same way.
It probably benefits the company if I do have just one device (or set of devices); I'm much more likely to always be reachable and have the right information available at all times. For some businesses and employees, security requirements won't permit such an arrangement, I get that, but I bet that number is relatively small. This, then, is the challenge for managing mobile devices going forward, and so far, I don't hear of too many companies attempting to address it.
Art Wittmann is director of InformationWeek Analytics, a portfolio of decision-support tools and analyst reports. You can write to him at email@example.com.
To find out more about Art Wittmann, please visit his page.
Virtual Event: Business Mobility Unleashed. Zero in on the top mobile technologies and techniques to ensure your organization thrives in the wireless world. Learn about strategies and products that offer remote user applications support, Wi-Fi management, security features, and device management. Our virtual event happens Thursday, July 14. Register now.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.