South African enterprises follow worldwide tablet trend

Small, light tablet PCs are the new in-demand productivity tool with South African businesses increasingly issuing their employees and management with these devices

September 7, 2011

That’s according to Graeme Victor, CEO of telecommunications solutions company Du Pont Telecom, who says the rapid uptake of smart phones such as the iPhone and Blackberry whetted business appetite for anywhere, anything business connectivity.

“Smartphones gave business people a taste for the greater efficiency and more effective use of time that was possible with a mobile computing device,” he says.

“But smartphones have their limitations. They have been designed as a business communications device as opposed to a business work tool. You can’t, for example, work on a Word document or Excel Spreadsheet on your smartphone. Well, you can – but would you?”

Over the past few months, Du Pont has experienced a sharp increase in requests by businesses for fleets of tablet PCs for their sales teams and executives.

This is in line with global trends.

An AlphaWise CIO Survey revealed that in 2010, 71% of enterprises did not allow their employees to use tablet PCs and only 21% purchased tablets for their staff. In 2011, 51% confirm purchasing tablets for employees and only 33% still don’t allow them to be used.

Other research organisations are also exceptionally bullish about tablet PCs.

Morgan Stanley Research/IDC, for example, expects tablet sales to increase by 245% to 55-million units in 2011; rising further to 102-million units in 2013.  Garner predicts tablet sales will top 208-million by 2014 and eMarketer forecasts that 81.3-million tables will be sold in 2012 alone.

Victor says that while tablets are not new, early tablets never really caught on as they tended to be regarded as executive toys.

Recognition of the tablet’s many qualities that make them excellent productivity tools – at times better than laptops or notebooks – is changing early perceptions.

When integrated with the user’s cellphone or when wifi and 3G enabled, tablets become the ultimate mobile business tool. Users can have 24/7, anywhere access to all their office/server/desktop/business information at their fingertips.

“However, because mobile data costs in South Africa remain extremely high, the business’s mobility costs can soar out of control – unless it is effectively managed,” Victor warns.

Compared to a laptop, a tablet is more portable; it generally has a longer battery life; and users can turn it on, connect to the Internet, switch on an app and get to work faster on a tablet than a notebook PC.

While most business people use their tablet only to browse the Internet, check emails and work on basic word processing and spreadsheet documents away from the office, the devices are increasing being used for sales support and customer presentations and as a voice recorder and note-taking device.

“In today’s mobile business world where employees need quick access to forms and data in meetings, in their cars, in client’s offices, in airport waiting areas etc, tablets are the perfect answer,” Victor concludes.

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