Addressing the Adoption of Tablets and Smartphones in the Enterprise

A. Braunberg
A. Braunberg

Summary Bullets:

  • At a high level, U.S. businesses are taking similar strategic approaches to the introduction of both tablets and smartphones into the enterprise.
  • Not surprisingly, the majority of survey respondents want to buy these devices and manage them.

Current Analysis recently completed a survey of enterprises in the U.S. to determine strategic direction for the adoption of tablets and smartphones in enterprise networks. While it is often assumed that enterprises will approach the adoption of tablets and smartphones differently (with tablets treated as simple laptop replacements), our research suggests this is not the case.

Respondents were given four broad strategic choices that focus on two main decision points: who buys the device (corporation or employee), and who manages/controls the device and mobile applications. The four strategic options are: 1) corporate purchase of device and corporate management of device and applications; 2) employee purchase of the device and corporate management of device and applications; 3) corporate purchase of the device and employee management and control of device and applications; or 4) employee purchase of device and employee management and control of device and applications. We segmented tablets and smartphones in our survey and asked respondents to explain their strategies for each type of device.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority (53%) of organizations we surveyed want to buy and manage tablets that are used by employees at work. But a similar number (49%) have the same plans for smartphones (i.e., corporate purchase and management). On the other hand, almost a third (31%) of organizations plan to purchase tablets but let employees manage them. Again, a similar number (36%) plan to take that approach with smartphones (i.e., corporate purchase but employee manage). This leaves a small minority of organizations that plan to let employees buy their own devices whether tablets or smartphones. And of those, most plan to manage those employee liable devices.

What was more surprising is when we compared current strategy to expected strategy in the future. We looked as far out as two long years from now and surprisingly respondents do not expect their mobile strategies (with respect to corporate liable vs. employee liable, or corporate controlled applications vs. employee managed applications) to change much. Strategy decisions it seems are being made independently of the actual state of the market. Two years is an eternity in the mobile device space. By way of illustration the Apple iPad has only been in the market for about 18 months. In two years’ time, enterprises will be looking at a completely different landscape of mobile devices and applications with respect to their enterprise focus and utility and yet there is no expectation of evolving mobile strategies.  This suggests that strategy decisions are not necessarily being driven by perceived enterprise-class deficiencies in current devices but rather are a product of broader systems management and network infrastructure strategies. Or perhaps organizations expect so much change over the next two years that they don’t even want to attempt to predict how it will affect mobility strategy. I am reminded of that Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

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