Recent reports indicate that tablet uptake within the small and medium enterprise (SME) market is at a mere 3%, and that it will be a while before users see this device become a conventional IT tool, whereas the enterprise market is expected to account for 25% of all tablet sales in 2011.

“However, in the US, there are almost 9-million tablets in use within the SME market, and while we know that the market there is more mature and has a stronger uptake as a result, Samsung believe that through the development of tablet applications and the benefits that are being so strongly demonstrated around tablets locally, this adoption will be mapped similarly in the coming year,” says Paulo Ferreira, head of mobile product and business solutions at Samsung.
This is not surprising if the benefits that tablets can have in this market is considered. From a device perspective, tablets offer unified functionality and a larger and clearer interface in comparison to other technology devices, are lightweight, quick to start up, have superior battery life and their ultra-thin designs make them easy to carry around.
“However, most importantly, the advancement in apps, cloud computing and networking or communication, is generating an environment where tablets are fast becoming the next positive disruptive trend that will alter how we communicate with customers – creating a communication experience that is not limited to location or time and resultantly increases the ability of businesses to create an 'always-connected' and consequently productive workforce,” continues Ferreira.
"For the SME, this is an unwavering business advantage, one that creates a competitive advantage and one that I believe will be the determining factor for the adoption of tablets in this market."
There are still perceived challenges for the SME market, including internal policies and pricing. In fact, studies suggest that 58% of small businesses in the US have no IT policy for supporting tablets, and while this is a similar reality locally, this really is just that: a perceived challenge.
“Tablet policies should be based on the same policies as regular laptops and smartphones – already a strong component of SME businesses in South Africa," adds Ferreira.
"Furthermore, pricing locally – a second hindrance to adoption –  has been driven down drastically, through the very competitive tablet environment, and as such this no longer is a challenge and should not limit decisions made around tablets, but rather a price comparison in relation to value should be undertaken to understand this component to hardware.
“Lack of knowledge and research around tablets halts adoption of these technologies that in essence will drive business processes and productivity. It is now more than ever critically important that SMEs start investigating the options available to them to ensure they don’t fall behind competitors, in driving business value through high-end, always on communication technologies,” concludes Ferreira.