As a mobile developer, one of the major trends we’re seeing right now is the explosion of tablets in the workplace. Just two years ago I remember a meeting where someone came in with just his iPad. No laptop bag, laptop, charger, notepad, and miscellaneous items to lug around – and at that point I knew I’d seen the future.
According to Apple’s latest earnings call, more than one out of every three smart devices they sold during the last quarter was an iPad – and with the latest iPad mini (not to mention Google’s new 10 inch and 7 inch Nexus tablets), we only expect this ratio to increase over the holiday season.
Many people speculated early on that the iPad would be adopted for specific use cases, such as payment processing, signing forms, and salespeople showing presentations to customers – but in reality, tablets cut across almost all business use cases.
The benefits of tablets in the workplace are obvious:
- They’re more portable and easier to carry
- Less expensive than laptops
- Longer battery life
- Eliminate paper-based processes
- Are more aesthetically appealing
Plus many people have become accustomed to typing on touchscreen devices, so they’re no longer intimidating for note taking and writing emails.
There are a number of trends that are making this move to tablets in the workplace possible, the most important of which is cloud computing. With all of my data in the cloud, I’m no longer tied to a single machine. Sure, I use a Macbook Air when I’m at my desk, but there’s nothing on my laptop that I can’t also access from my iPad or my Nexus 10 (or my web browser for that matter).
As we witness the fast adoption of tablets for business, software developers are also customizing their solutions to address the needs of the mobile workforce. We’ve seen consumer-focused companies, such as Evernote, launch business-specific offerings. And a few weeks ago, another company that we work with closely (who will go unnamed here) said that over 75% of their paid mobile users are coming from iPads.
Even within large enterprises this shift to tablets is happening rapidly. By now we’ve all heard of BYOD and consumerization of the enterprise. But what I find fascinating is that these enterprises are actually in the process of deploying consumer-grade mobile apps for iPads and Android tablets that let their employees access corporate data (email, calendar, intranet, documents, etc.). But these are actually real consumer apps – not some bloated clunky enterprise app – and there are a number of companies just focused on solving this problem alone – such as Apperian, Good, Mocana, and many others.
So what does this all mean? First, business users have to start centralizing their storage and their data. This will definitely create more work for the CIO & CTO to ensure security and manageability. Next, there’s the problem of device fragmentation. If you’re like me and have a Galaxy Nexus as a phone and an iPad as a tablet, it’s important to choose applications that work across devices. And if your favorite apps don’t work across both Android and iOS, then you’ll need to find a strong browser (url: dolphin-browser.com) that bridges the gap. And lastly, don’t be surprised when you begin to see tablets in the most unusual situations – from the boardroom to the garbage truck.