Tablet PCs are top of mind, survey suggests

Dan Reio

CDW Canada's Dan Reio

Canadian businesses are increasingly eyeing tablet devices as a means of bolstering employees’ productivity, results from a recently released survey suggests.

CDW Canada, a solution provider serving public and private sectors, found its Canadian customers will be looking at tablet devices very closely over the next year both for business and personal use. Turns out the primary driver, unsurprisingly, is an increasingly mobile workforce seeking a more convenient form factor than a laptop.

“Each year CDW Canada conducts a poll at Business Technology Expo, our annual customer event. This was the first year we included a series of questions regarding tablet PCs, as we wanted to learn about our customers’ opinions of the devices,” explained Daniel Reio, director of marketing, CDW Canada in Etobicoke, Ont. “There are many factors that make tablet PCs of interest as a business tool but in particular, portability is helping to drive this. The portability factor allows for employees to use a tablet PC in the same way they would their laptop, but with a lighter, more compact device.”

Notable highlights of the survey results include:

  • 49 per cent of respondents said their workplace plans on purchasing tablet PCs for employee use;
  • Of those, 64 per cent said company tablet PC purchases will be to add to their existing PC and desktop environment;
  • 58 per cent of respondents are planning to purchase a tablet PC for personal use this year.

But what about those employees that bring a personal device into the workplace? The consumerization of IT is all the rage nowadays.

“We encourage our customers to take a step-back approach when deciding to purchase a tablet PC for workplace use in part for this very reason,” Reio responded. “We want them to examine the investment from all angles: How will tablets be used in the business (will they be replacing company laptops, or used in conjunction?) How will they be managed? With a variety of manufacturers’ models being brought into the work environment, it could definitely be difficult for IT to manage all.

“We recommend they evaluate how they are going to manage tablets prior to giving a green light to BYOD (bring your own device). But in reality BYOD has been going on for some time with smartphones. In most cases, it is a matter of IT making sure they have a firm understanding of what is being brought in to the work environment, in whatever way works for them.”

Ergo the need for the IT department to effectively and securely manage smart devices as well as the apps and corporate content on them might suggest an internal-facing enterprise app store solution could be a subsequent step.

“It is still quite early days, so today’s focus and what we are hearing is more about which applications are available and how customers can leverage these to be more productive,” he remarked.

CDW Canada has added the HP TouchPad — which launched on July 15 in Canada — to its list of tablet and tablet PC device offerings, including the Apple iPad, ASUS Eee Pad, BlackBerry PlayBook, Motorola XOOM, and Toshiba tablets.

A longstanding HP partner, CDW Canada is excited to offer customers the HP TouchPad, officials said.

A total of 184 customers participated in this year’s survey, Reio added. Of the respondents 36 per cent of the organizations employ 500+ employees and 19.5 per cent employ 101-250 employees. The majority of surveyed organizations’ primary business is finance (17 per cent), construction (15 per cent), arts and entertainment (14 per cent), government (13 per cent), and healthcare (13 per cent).