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Executive SummarySomething unusual is happening in the workplace. Technological innovation has traditionally been top-down, initiated by the CIO and corporate technology specialists. But we have recently started to witness "consumerisation"—a growing trend for novel IT to emerge first in the consumer market and steadily infiltrate business organisations. It’s driving convergence between IT and consumer electronics, as our technology usage and habits at home infuse, inspire and inform our professional lives.
The use of the tablet computer for business appears to be one such grass-roots phenomenon: a swell of employee energy and enthusiasm is building behind the enterprise deployment of tablet computers and applications. Many users are proactively buying devices with their own money and integrating them into their day-to-day roles, connecting them to enterprise networks with or without permission. This willingness to bring non company-issued devices into the workplace is prompting many organisations to consider an enterprise tablet strategy earlier and in earnest.
This paper reveals the findings of a joint internal tablet trial by Accenture and Vodafone Global Enterprise, which finds that it is in organisations’ best interests to capitalise on this momentum. However, this raises the need to address some key strategic and practical issues prior to full-scale deployment. As well as the compelling business benefits of tablet use, this paper explores the IT, user support, security and procurement considerations associated with incorporating tablet computers into an enterprise mobility strategy.
The Rise of the Tablet Computer in EnterpriseThe impact of the tablet computer has been nothing short of astonishing. These devices have captured the imagination of millions: according to forecasts by IDC , tablet shipments will grow from 19.5 million units in 2010 to 124.8 million units in 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45%. 1
The "app" concept quickly established itself as the de facto means of delivering specific capabilities and functionality. As a barometer, by July 2011, Apple’s App Store had already despatched its 15 billionth application in just three years. 2
This phenomenal take-off poses an unprecedented challenge: tablet computers have found favour at such a rate in the personal domain that enterprises have found themselves behind the technological curve, trying to understand whether and how best to deploy this innovation. The number of tablet computers in enterprise use is growing rapidly, thanks to a combination of internal demand and the proliferation of such devices in the consumer market. Industry analysts predict the use of tablets will eventually become the norm among mobile, technology-literate business users.
Tablet computer vendors, along with mobile network operators and systems integrators, are now assessing the benefits that tablets can bring to the enterprise, and responding with tools and capabilities that better support enterprise application distribution and device management.
The Accenture-Vodafone Global Enterprise Tablet Trial
Aims and IntentionsThe purpose of the trial conducted by Accenture and Vodafone Global Enterprise was to assess the value and suitability of tablet computers for wide-scale enterprise adoption. The trial was carried out across a five-month period (between November 2010 and March 2011) using a representative sample of employees from Accenture (49 users) and Vodafone Global Enterprise (62 users). The overwhelming majority of participants (92%) were high and/or competent users of tablet computers. Feedback was collected from participants through a series of regular questionnaires.
Outcomes and FindingsThe joint research revealed that participants primarily used their tablet computers for Internet browsing and e-mail, which increased their productivity and enabled collaboration. It emerged that tablet computers are particularly suited for reading and presenting documents, but have limitations in creating and editing documents. Around half of all participants found their tablet computers better than laptops for checking e-mails, viewing or making presentations, and browsing the Internet.
Most agreed the tablet computer was better suited to presenting and reviewing documents than to originating content. For this reason, nearly all regarded the tablet computer as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, other enterprise devices (mobile phone and laptop). In fact, only one participant expressed willingness to use only the tablet computer.
Since using their tablet computers, participants reported using both their laptops and smartphones 23% less. For highly mobile presenters, the percentage was still greater.
Overall, trial participants summarised the main advantages of tablet computers as portability and speedy access to information, and the primary challenges as document creation and editing, and compliance with corporate storage solutions.
The trial identified particular benefits for highly mobile users of business information in externally-facing roles. Such employees are typically required to travel from site to site, locally, nationally or globally, working in the field or on customer premises. For such highly mobile users, the tablet provides convenient and rapid access to e-mail and the Internet. It enables the sharing and viewing of video and presentations at planned business meetings, as well as facilitating spontaneous collaboration in less formal settings. Being able to tap in to back-office data or online content on the go can enhance performance as well as productivity, which benefits customers and, ultimately, the bottom line.
Conclusions and RecommendationsThe enterprise deployment of tablet computers plays to some of the behaviours that companies have been seeking to inculcate for some time: flexibility and collaboration.
Trial feedback strongly suggests that for enterprises, the tablet computer is a portable, cost-effective alternative to laptops that increases productivity by enabling people to work more flexibly and efficiently both in the office and elsewhere. Tech-savvy employees can gain advantage by using these devices to present to key clients and staff, projecting an image of a forward-thinking and technologically advanced company. However, tablet computers aren’t a panacea: the trial concluded that they don’t offer a wholesale alternative to laptops and smartphones in the office environment. Firstly, despite offering the potential for Voice over IP, they are not telephony devices. Secondly, the current generation of tablet computers does not match the power or utility of the laptop or desktop PC when it comes to content generation. Content creators still prefer the ergonomics – notably the screen and keyboard – of more traditional machines. But the tablet computer functions admirably as a portable collaboration tool and instant presentation resource, and can serve as a laptop/smartphone replacement for field sales and service personnel or in the retail environment, for example.
Enterprise ConsiderationsThe full integration of a tablet computer estate into an existing corporate infrastructure requires attention to be paid to a range of considerations – financial and technical, strategic and practical. These would typically span:
Procurement – if the tablet computer is a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, a laptop and smartphone, it’s vital to evaluate the total cost of ownership against the tangible and intangible business benefits gained through increased flexibility.
IT – technical considerations of an enterprise mobility strategy include: access to corporate data, increased network complexity, operating system and platform diversity, compatibility with cloud-based storage, file transfer between tablets and PCs, hard copy outputs, activity management and enterprise application development.
Security – security is a concern for both the enterprise, in terms of device management and data protection, as well as for users who bring personal tablets into the workplace.
Policies, Procedures and Practices – introducing tablet computers into the enterprise setting may require an element of business process re-engineering to mitigate risk and ensure adherence to best practice. However, tablets can equally have a transformational impact on some business processes, particularly those performed in a mobile environment rather than behind a desk, improving process experience, efficiency and productivity.
User Support – while tablets have been developed with an intuitive user experience at their heart, some users may require a level of support to become proficient enough to fully exploit the device’s capabilities. The majority of typical transition challenges can be addressed to a great extent by a managed mobility service, one designed to support seamless tablet deployment and simplified ongoing operation.
Support for Enterprise ImplementationTo help businesses address the aforementioned considerations with confidence and accelerate value from any tablet initiative, Accenture and Vodafone Global Enterprise are able to provide a broad complement of services to support enterprise deployment and ongoing management. This offering combines Accenture’s capabilities in mobility consultancy and systems integration with Vodafone Global Enterprise’s strengths in managed services, customer insight and delivery, and broadly encompasses:
Let Tablet Transformation CommenceSupported by a managed service, tablet computers can bring real value to the enterprise, enabling the mobile workforce to readily access and exchange information and content with minimal barriers. As the joint trial has shown, tablets can facilitate communication, encourage collaboration and improve capacity, allowing the user to illustrate concepts, techniques, products and services in a variety of environments, from the coffee shop to the golf course, as well as formal meetings and conferences. Rather than being a primarily executive tool, they enable highly mobile users in any role – whether on the shop floor, the airport concourse or out in the field – to achieve more from their working day, resulting in greater operational efficiency and value for the enterprise. Accenture and Vodafone Global Enterprise are able to help organisations realise this value sooner by pooling their knowledge and experience in a bespoke tablet computer development and implementation service. Global in capability as well as reach, it can help businesses to minimise the risks inherent in the deployment of novel technologies. Above all, it allows companies to benefit from enabling their people to work in more fluid, collaborative and unstructured ways that would have been impossible to imagine only a few years ago.
About AccentureAccenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 244,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become highperformance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
About Vodafone Global EnterpriseVodafone Global Enterprise provides managed communications services to many of the world’s leading global companies. It operates across five regions: Northern Europe; Central Europe; Southern Europe; the Americas; Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, with teams based in 40+ countries.
1 (Source: IDC report “IDC Worldwide Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, Q3 2011”)2 (Source: “Apple Press Info” http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/07/07Apples-App-Store- Downloads-Top-15-Billion.html)
April 2, 2012
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