Figures over the past few quarters from the major analyst houses have indicated that the consumer appetite for tablets has been waning as users move to other form factors including fabulist and the latest crop of smart phones.
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But the technology that partly gave rise to the BYOD phenomenon, along with phones, has been gaining ground in the corporate environment over the past couple of years and continues to do so according to some fresh numbers from IDC.
The role of the tablet in the corporate environment is one that poses some security and infrastructure challenges with firms needing to ensure the devices do not compromise the network as well as making sure that the current bandwidth can handle more wifi requests.
IDC expects the use of tablets and 2-in1 devices to more than double from the 6% adoption levels in corporates last year to 15% by 2018, which should provide the channel with revenue selling the hardware as well as the additional services.
The analyst house is expecting 40m tablets to be sold in the next five years, accounting for a quarter of all computing devices by 2019, adding to the 10m already in use in businesses across Western Europe.
"The increasing mobility of the workforce and digitalization of the work process is urging businesses, regardless of their size, to reconsider their computing infrastructure," said Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. "The drivers of change are efficiency and productivity gains. In this increasingly mobile and digital environment, tablets are emerging as an ideal tool to provide employees with seamless access to content and data anywhere and anytime."
There are particular vertical markets (see box) that have adopted the technology quicker than elsewhere if they have employees that are out of the office or on remote sites on a regular basis.
Although at different speeds adoption in all verticals is accelerating and IDC found that 70% of firms are planning to purchase tablets in the next couple of years and expect the mix of their computing platforms to change significantly by 2018.
But across the market all customers have benefited from declining prices along with the creation of apps that are designed to appeal to their market needs.
"Besides productivity, customer-facing engagement is also crucial," Fiorentini added "The digital revolution means that always-connected customers expect to be able to receive products and services whenever they need them and on any device. If their service provider does not meet their expectations, they will simply look elsewhere. Customer-facing roles and clients themselves offer a large opportunity for the tablet market thanks to the increasing importance of customer experience and omni-channel."
The other change has been the expansion of the use of tablets away from just senior management. The times when an iPad was nestled along with a copy of the boardroom meeting agenda for just a select C level executives are over with IDC finding that 60% of users are now in line-of-business roles, which is a number expected to rise even further in the next couple of years.
Adoption rates between different verticals differ because of the levels of mobility in the workforce but according to IDC this is how some of the different segments line-up in terms of tablet adoption:
Transport sector leads the way with 12% tablet penetration
Distribution, which includes retails and wholesale, is at 9%
Government stands at 5%
In Aviation, hospitality and public sector the penetration rate is expected to hit 17% by 2018.
IDC is urging the IT industry to recognise the opportunity the expansion of tablet use creates with customers looking for more customisation of their tools. As well as providing an income for app developers there shield also be a wider pitch for the channel to make around choosing the right device to meet a firm’s working, security and infrastructure needs.
An example of just how the industry is looking to meet the corporate demand for tablets came towards the end of last week when HP unveiled its Pro Tablet 608, which it is aiming squarely at the business market.
Without going too much into the specs the device features long battery life, a toughened chassis and the ability to support legacy wired connectivity all making it more attractive to users in a business environment.
“True business mobility will dramatically transform workflows to make us more efficient, connected and productive,” said Frank Brassart, director, mobility business unit, printing & personal systems, HP EMEA. “We are continuing to expand on our purpose-built mobility solutions to help our customers change how business is done.”