re: The Good And Bad Of Tablets At Work
Most of the people I talk to think the truth is somewhere in the middle. On the consumer side, mobile devices will hold a pretty big advantage. A household might have once had several PCs, perhaps even a laptop for every member of the family. Now, many of these household will keep an old, aging machine for communal use, and turn to tablets or smartphones for personal devices. Tablets will be refreshed and replaced faster than PCs among consumers, which only exaggerates this gap. With BYOD and new workflows, some of this will cross over to businesses,
Enterprises, meanwhile, will - and already do - buy millions of tablets, but most of their devices will still be "traditional" machines. That said, recent trends suggest enterprises aren't in a big hurry to buy new devices, so the effect we see among consumers - that PCs are going longer between replacements - is also, at least for the moment, true in the enterprise as well. So, despite the fact that enterprises will continue to invest in PCs, this trend will also narrow the gap between the total PC install base and the total mobile install base.
In coming years, it's quite possible that - by volume - mobile devices will be the dominant computing device, not just in terms of new sales but in terms of active machines worldwide. That said, such a calculation would include smartphones and mini-tablets in the "mobile" category, and though these devices might become ubiquitous, it's silly to say they'll replace PCs when it comes to certain very important business tasks. So mobile devices might win the numbers game, and that's significant, but numbers alone don't dictate the importance of a device category.
At most businesses, both mobile and desktop workflows will be important. The permutations of software, devices, personnel and training that optimize this mixture is the real challenge for many businesses. The idea that it will be all about mobile or all about PCs-- that's something that must be resisted. It will be both, for the foreseeable future. To achieve the optimal blend, enterprises will have to forge new relationships with their IT teams, and be more receptive, in many cases, to consumerization trends. But they'll also have to keep using a lot of PCs.
- Michael Endler, IW Associate Editor