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SearchCIO has been buzzing about BYOD trends and the increased use of mobile technology for some time now, but how many corporate employees actually use iPads and other tablets for work? According to a report by Forrester Research, tablet devices are primarily in the hands of top-level employees in the workplace -- the very top.
Last year, Forrester surveyed 3,519 people and found that directors and employees were four times more likely to use tablets at work compared to their underlings. The upper echelons were also two times more likely to use a tablet over managers or supervisors.
What's behind the gap? Are workers reserving their tablets for play, not work?
According to Forrester's report, executives and directors are using their devices primarily as consumption or viewing devices. Workers and managers, as many of us know, are generally expected to do more than consume or view -- namely produce. And there's the rub. Given current tablet offerings, most employees cannot effectively work on their tablet devices because they are either not 100% compatible with enterprise applications, or productivity apps are not complex enough to meet the demands of many business processes. Another downside is the lack of a keyboard and a mouse, as well as the inability to plug in USB devices (hard drives, flash drives, printers). Microsoft, HP, Samsung and others are beefing up their tablet offerings to appeal to workplaces, but creatures of habit that we are, I suspect most of us productivity workers will not rush to adopt the new tech for day-to-day tasks unless, of course, those offerings make us more productive.
Of the managers and supervisors surveyed by Forrester that do use tablets, 24% used them at least once per week; by comparison, 43% of director-level or executive workers said they use tablets on the job weekly.
Our advice to CIOs: Don't scramble to replace PCs with tablets for the general workforce -- the technology isn't there just yet. Yes, we've all read predictions like this one from Gartner that "80% of companies will have a mobile workforce armed with tablets" by 2014. But armed is not the same as doing-your-main-work-on. Unless there is a compelling reason for workers to use the current versions of tablets, it won't happen.
What do you think: Is this a debate about productivity or status? Could your employees get by on the job only using a tablet? Is it easier to simply power up a laptop or desktop computer? Read the full story by Victor J. Blue in The New York Times' Bits blog post and sound off in the comment section below -- and Happy Fourth!
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