The latest International Data Corporation (IDC) study on tablets in enterprises reveals that tablet penetration is accelerating in companies in the UK, France and Germany, and is expected to reach more than 15% of the total client device base by 2018, up from 6% in the second half of 2014.
More than 10-million tablets are already used today in the commercial space in Western Europe across both small and large enterprises, supporting a constantly growing number of business activities. As adoption gathers pace, IDC expects more than 40-million tablets and 2-in-1s to be sold over the next five years to represent one out of four business computing devices in use by 2019.
“The increasing mobility of the workforce and digitalization of the work process is urging businesses, regardless of their size, to reconsider their computing infrastructure,” says Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
“The drivers of change are efficiency and productivity gains. In this increasingly mobile and digital environment, tablets are emerging as an ideal tool to provide employees with seamless access to content and data anywhere and anytime.”
Adoption differs across verticals, with the transport sector, a quintessentially mobile industry, leading in terms of penetration as tablets already represent almost 12% of all computing devices (including traditional PCs, company-owned smartphones, and specialized handheld and point-of-sale devices).
In the remaining sectors, penetration ranges between less than 5% in government and 9% in distribution (including retail and wholesale). However, it is striking that in all verticals adoption is accelerating. In fact, 70% of the interviewed companies are planning or are likely to purchase tablets in the next two years and the vast majority of them expect the tablets’ share over their total client devices to increase by 2018.
The aviation industry, for which fuel is the largest operational expenditure, will remain a key beneficiary of the shift away from heavy traditional paper material, but growth is anticipated to gain momentum in the other verticals too, especially in hospitality and in some pockets of the public sector. In these three sectors, tablet penetration is expected to exceed 17% by 2018.
According to the study, three-quarters of tablets used in enterprises are currently slates, as touch is considered a very important input method by over 80% of respondents. Physical keyboards, however, remain key in addition to touch supporting future demand for 2-in-1s or convertibles.
In the coming two years these hybrid form factors are expected to grow considerably as they are increasingly adopted in enterprises to replace notebook PCs for job functions that have both productivity and mobility requirements.
“Besides productivity, customer-facing engagement is also crucial,” Fiorentini says. “This is particularly the case in hospitality and distribution, but the study reveals that improving customer service through tablets is a strong driver even in verticals that traditionally are not considered customer-centric, such as healthcare, transport, manufacturing, or the public sector.
“The digital revolution means that always-connected customers expect to be able to receive products and services whenever they need them and on any device. If their service provider does not meet their expectations, they will simply look elsewhere. Customer-facing roles and clients themselves offer a large opportunity for the tablet market thanks to the increasing importance of customer experience and omni-channel.”
Another important opportunity for tablet deployment expansion comes from “mobile workers,” who carry out all or the majority of their activities not in an office but on the road (such as drivers, pilots, couriers, etc.) or in the field (like maintenance, operation personnel and so on).
In fact, the survey shows that thanks to declining device price points and increasing hardware and apps verticalisation, tablets in enterprises are no longer used only by executives and senior management. On the contrary, 60% of tablet users are now in line-of-business roles, including white-collar, marketing, operations, production, and maintenance positions, and this percentage is set to rise.
The acceleration of tablet adoption across all sectors represents a significant opportunity for the IT industry. As the user base and usage scenarios expand, hardware and software requirements are also changing.
IDC’s Tablets in Enterprise study highlights the opportunity for device makers and software and apps developers to more specifically approach enterprises with the right solution, from hardware to software, with security and device management options.