A few years ago, computing on the move meant laptops. Today, mobile computing is being transformed by the popularity of new mobile devices, tablets and the iPad especially. Indeed global tablet sales are forecast to be 90 million units this year and 130 million units in 2013, surpassing desktop PC sales for the first time (Source: Digitimes); tablets have already overtaken and helped to kill off the netbook category (Source: ABI Research). So what does this mean for the enterprise sector?
The driver for this change is the launch of the iPad3, which sold out on launch day, and shook up the market with both a new HD product and a lower-priced iPad option. But it would be wrong to expect Apple to have the tablet market to itself. Lower cost options such as the Amazon-sponsored Kindle Fire should carve out a good share of the market that can’t afford an iPad. With its support for both keyboard and touch screen, it will be interesting see how the arrival of Windows 8 also expands and develops the tablet category at the expense of traditional personal computing.
As tablet and other mobile device usage rises, companies are beginning to seriously evaluate their benefits and applications according to independent experts like IDC who believe tablets are already a credible client device for businesses. Current surveys reveal that tablets are being used primarily for email followed by note-taking and presentations.
Some studies do suggest that such growth in tablet usage is hiding more business-critical usage of tablets; for example, a recent study by Instat asked enterprise tablet users to list the most important uses of their tablet, revealing CRM and IT network intelligence as the most important uses after email.
While the priority and range of applications will change as more business-oriented apps become available, the common factor for business usage is computing on the move. Perhaps even more than consumers, enterprise users see tablets and smartphones as better devices for remote access than laptops because of their smaller size and lighter weight.
To maximise the personal productivity of enterprise tablet usage on the move, organisations need to extend the advantages of desktop virtualisation to new generations of mobile devices such as tablets running either iOS or Android operating systems.
Accessing a virtual desktop hosted on a private or public cloud service using an app means that a tablet user can also access their personal desktop on the move. This app-based experience is often superior to laptop remote access with a personal virtual desktop available within 30 seconds and with the robustness and security that you would expect from an enterprise-strength application. When the user needs to access personal data and applications on their other devices, a new generation of business apps and cloud services, such as Wyse’s PocketCloud Remote Desktop, is enabling the concept of a personal cloud that enables remote, seamless and anytime access to your own collection of locations where your business or personal files and applications reside.
The effect of new mobile devices on enterprise computing is becoming clearer day by day, especially as waves of new products hit the market. What’s already clear is that in common with previous mobile devices, they present CIOs with particular management challenges and headaches. It already seems that the majority of tablets being used in businesses are personal devices, increasing the likelihood that for many organisations the bring your own device concept is entering the enterprise through the back door. Indeed, the recent Instat study suggested that less than a quarter of business tablets are even paid for by the enterprise. So how should you integrate these devices into the enterprise IT infrastructure effectively and with the right controls and safeguards?
The good news is that solutions for managing and getting the best value out of new mobile devices in the enterprise are becoming available. IT vendors recognise that organisations need to manage and control access to devices entering their networks, including smartphones, tablets, thin clients, zero clients and PCs, regardless of device ownership, in order to make the transition to a post-PC era smooth and productive.
David Angwin is EMEA marketing director for Wyse.