Tablets: How will they impact your enterprise IT?

It seems that last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) can be summed up with one word:

“Tablet”.

Even though Steve Ballmer, CEO at Microsoft, demonstrated an HP “slate” running Windows in last year’s CES keynote, Apple managed to steal Microsoft’s thunder with the iPad and this year’s show saw just about every PC manufacturer (and Fujitsu is no exception) preparing to launch their own model(s).

Tablet computers aren’t new but Apple’s iPad has revitalised the market – I recently wrote about this when I examined the potential impact on desktop managed service – and one report I read suggested that there were over 80 tablets launched at CES!

For many years, CIOs have been standardising end-user computing environments on Intel x86 hardware and Windows operating systems, with appropriate levels of lockdown and control which makes it all the more interesting to see the variation in hardware, form factor and operating system in these new devices.

Our IT departments will struggle to support this plethora of devices yet IT consumerisation will force us to. But this isn’t a new phenomenon – ten years ago I was working in an organisation which was trying to standardise on Windows CE devices as they provided the best application support platform for the business, whilst the execs were asking for BlackBerrys so they could access e-mail on the move.

Guess what happened? We ended up with both.

And that’s what will happen with next-generation tablets, just as for smartphones. To some extent, it’s true for PCs too – the hardware and the operating system have become commoditised – and our task is to ensure that we can present the right data and the right applications to the right people, at the right time, on the right device.

Which brings back around me to my opening point: tablets featured heavily at CES but tablets are just one part of the IT mix. Will your organisation be supporting their use in the enterprise? And do you see them as serious business devices, or are they really just executive toys?

[This post originally appeared on the Fujitsu UK and Ireland CTO Blog.]

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