While tablets like the iPad started as consumer devices, businesses are not just finding them useful, but often positively disruptive.
Much has been written about consumerization of technology — the trend where consumers drive the adoption of technology within the enterprise, sometimes actively opposing the IT department. Tablets are the prime example of this. As more and more consumers buy and use them, they begin to bring them to the workplace and use them for their jobs. Salespeople are starting to take them to clients. Marketers start designing campaigns around them. And vendors take notice. Many enterprise vendors have begun to offer tablet versions of their software. Brand names like SAP, Oracle, salesforce.com and MicroStrategy are just a sampling of the vendors now openly offering iPad versions of their solutions.
So, are tablets ready for application leaders to consider a target platform? Should sales retool its processes to facilitate their use? Should clients evaluate vendor offerings when considering what IT solutions meet their needs? These issues are what this special research collection is all about.
In the second part of Gartner's special research collection on tablets, we look at the impact iPads and other tablets are having on various processes in the organization, such as sales and marketing. In addition, we look at the move by some vendors to offer enterprise applications to run on these tablets.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the tablet phenomenon is the way it is driving new user behaviors. Tablets do not merely present a new form factor for users, but they also create new opportunities to engage them. Tablets are not used in the same way as traditional PCs, and they are not replacing other devices, such as smartphones. Instead, they are extending computing capabilities into new locations that were not practical before, and along the way are extending the amount of time users spend in any computing environment. Given that user attention is a scarce commodity, businesses can capitalize on the additional time the tablet screen can offer.
Analyses of early adopters of iPads in business show a real shift in usage patterns. For example, a large sales force that deployed iPads discovered that people were spending 20% more computing time total per day when they used a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop than if they were using a smartphone and laptop alone. Laptops were relegated to less-frequent (but longer) sessions, and users were reaching for tablets frequently throughout the day (see Figure 1).
Source: Gartner (June 2011)
In this special research collection, we examine the resulting opportunities for new applications:
In "Remote Workers and New Marketing Applications Will Drive Tablet Use by Marketers," Kim Collins discusses how the marketing process will be impacted by tablets. This is an important buying center that will not only be developing strategies for how its customers use tablets, but will also find its own processes impacted.
Adam Sarner talks about one key part of marketing, digital marketing, in "Top Differentiating Capabilities for Tablets That Marketers Can Use for Digital Marketing" to go a level lower in the marketing process flow.
Rob Desisto talks about a similar impact on the sales process in "iPads: Customer-Facing Selling Will Drive iPad Use for Sales." Sales is one of the buying centers moving the fastest in using tablets and as such will see the most change in the short run.
Because of this, Michael Dunne also has a piece on sales, "iPads: Their Impact on the Top Six Sales Processes," where he drills deeper by looking at six key processes in the sales department.
"Two Use Cases: The iPad for Consumer and Field Service Support," by Michael Maoz, looks at an area that has long been interested in mobile computing, namely field service, to see whether tablets meet their particular needs. He also discusses the broader issues of customer service in the tablet age.
In "Using the Hype Around iPads and Tablets to Make ERP More User-Centric," Jeff Woods and Christian Hestermann discuss signposts of when and where in the ERP world we can expect to see tablets take hold.
Gene Alvarez looks at the e-commerce function in "The Impact of Tablets and E-Readers on E-Commerce," as does Chris Fletcher in "The iPad Convergence: Subscription Management, Micropayments and Digital Delivery." Both pieces of research examine the convergence of several other trends that have affected e-commerce and mobile computers that now comes together around tablets, and how this will affect business models.
"The Impact of App Stores on Your Application Strategy," by Dennis Gaughan, responds to a number of questions from organizations, namely, "Should we create an app store internally?" The question must be answered within an application strategy, not separate from it.
Finally, Scott Nelson and David Willis look at the difference between consumer apps and enterprise apps in "Separating Enterprise Tablet Applications From Consumer Apps." There are lots of places to look for good consumer apps, but how do you make a selection if your current enterprise vendors (ERP, CRM, business intelligence, etc.) start offering a tablet app?