Cisco Cius Hopes To Ride BYOD Wave

Cisco has high hopes that begrudging acceptance of BYOD will boost its own work-minded tablet. But one analyst says the networking giant is missing the point.

Tom Dunlap, Contributor

February 6, 2012

4 Min Read

Tons of Tablets

Tons of Tablets

Tons of Tablets (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

A new survey released by Cisco shows a growing enthusiasm for tablets in the enterprise, and although the market is still evolving, Cisco claims the survey demonstrates that 2012 is a year in which enterprise-grade tablet computing will undergo significant change.

Cisco used the services of Redshift Research to survey 1,500 IT managers and executives in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Spain, France, and Germany to discern attitudes, fears and hopes for tablets in the enterprise.

Cisco sees these trends opening up possibilities for its Cius tablet, which it positions as an enterprise device rather than as a competitor to the iPad and other consumer tablets. One prominent analyst questions whether Cisco can skirt the consumer wave so easily, however. (More on the analyst's comments in a bit.)

[ Is your tablet data safe? See Motorola Tablet Goof: 4 Security Lessons For Users ]

Redshift polled IT managers and execs in a variety of global companies of all sizes. All respondents either were primary IT decision makers or played an important role in the decision process for IT products. "Mobile workers and virtual workspaces are here to stay--but so are the demands on IT to continue to ensure enterprise-grade security, manageability, and interoperability," Tom Puorro, director of product management, IPCBU, Cisco Systems, said in a statement. "2012 promises to be an exciting year, and IT leaders are a critical component in unleashing innovation and enabling organizations to take advantage of the next wave of business growth and opportunity. Cisco is keenly focused on helping its customers navigate the post-PC era and transform their business."

The United States, the country with the most experience managing tablets, ranked first on security worries. Seventy-five percent of U.S. IT managers said that new rules must be established around security and device usage.

Around the globe, 48% of survey respondents said their organization would never authorize employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work. But 57% agreed that some workers use personal devices without consent, and more than 50% of the respondents reported what is plain to see: the number of employees lugging their own devices to work is on the rise. Using personal gadgets without the company's consent was highest in the U.S. (64%) and lowest in Germany (49%).

When I asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, about Cisco's "keen focus" on helping its customers navigate the post-PC era, he was not as enthusiastic as Cisco's Tom Puorro.

"Well, they are correct that enterprises are taking in tablets in large numbers," Enderle said. "The message they missed, though, is that this is driven by the employees/consumers who haven’t shown any interest in Cisco’s product whatsoever. This is mostly iPads.

"Special builds by Lenovo (ThinkPad Tablet) and Panasonic (ToughPad) are getting some IT uplift, but for the most part, this is an Apple-driven event," Enderle added. "Even the Windows 7 products don’t seem to be moving."

He also brought up Cisco's experiences with consumers and what it might mean in the tablet market.

"Cisco doesn’t have the best history with regard to consumer offerings," Enderle continued. "They had to shut down most of their consumer division, and this showcases what may be a continued tendency to not really pay attention to what folks are actually saying. When they say tablet, at the moment, they generally mean iPad, and a product that doesn’t have any consumer demand isn’t going to compete well on a trend that is called the "'consumerization of IT.'"

Other findings from the global IT survey include:

-- Three-quarters of IT managers reported that email and document sharing are "must have" tablet features. About half agreed or strongly agreed that these are also on the most-desirable list: video conferencing, IM, access to company databases, and seamless synchronization with other business devices.

-- When it comes to app access, nearly half (48%) of all IT managers agree that access to enterprise applications should be restricted for all workers. Canada and the UK topped all others in wanting to see restricted access on tablets (55% and 56%, respectively).

-- Access to company servers was seen as a "huge problem" of the BYOD phenomena, as was lost or stolen devices, a concern of 64%. Forty-four percent said that dealing with BYOD issues diverts IT attention from other key projects.

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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