How iPads Enter The Workforce

Ted Schadler
Vice President, Principal Analyst
October 26, 2010

iPad has exploded onto the scene. Who could have imagined that a tablet (a category introduced in 2001) would capture the imagination of employees and IT alike? But it did, and it's kicked off an arms race for smart mobile devices. Every day, a new tablet appears: Cisco Cius, Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab, RIM PlayBook, HP Windows 7 Tablet, the list goes on. These post-PC devices will find a place in your company, but where?

We've had over 200 conversations with IT customers about iPads and other tablets since January. The interest is incredible. And IT is ahead of the curve on this one, determined not to be playing catchup as happened with employee and executive demand for iPhones. We talk to people every day who are deploying iPads in pilots or experiments.

In a new report for Forrester clients, we categorize the ways in which we see tablets entering the workplace:

  • Displace laptops. This is the classic executive and mobile professional scenario. While it will be some time before tablets replace laptops completely, iPads have proven their value in meeting rooms, on the go, and of course as personal devices. But for now, it means tablets are a third device alongside smartphones and laptops.
  • Replace clipboards and other paper. This is the scenario for a construction manager using an application by Vela Systems whocan now carry an iPad instead of a tube full of construction drawings. It also applies to clinical testing in the pharma industry, facilities inspections by quality assurance pros, and insurance brokers writing business out in the field.
  • New place scenarios where there has been no connected solution previously. This includes doctors using iPads to write orders in surgery or access patient records in the examination room. Also retail floor personnel customizing an order for a new Mercedes or summer wardrobe.

I've heard lots of interesting scenarios. Thanks for all of you who have shared.

I'm still looking for a scenario where there are some business results to point to: tablets deployed, business outcomes achieved, barriers overcome, lessons learned. If you have one and are willing to share it, please let me know.

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