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Tablets for work still the province of C-suite

Enterprise CIOs might want to put a hold on issuing tablets for work until productivity on these devices improves. Read about the tablet gap in Forrester's report, plus how to take fireworks photos and Facebook's psych study in this Searchlight.

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!

  • Are you planning to see fireworks this Fourth of July weekend? Follow these tips from Wired to get great fireworks photos. Short answer: Get close, turn off flash and work on your timing.
  • Working from home has its perks, but it also has a long list of cons. Make sure your organizations are giving employees the right advice and tools to be as productive at home as they can be in the office.
  • If you use Facebook, you've unknowingly been a lab rat in a massive psychological experiment. To better understand the age-old complaint that going on Facebook and seeing all the wonderful things other people are doing makes individuals feel bad about their own lives, Facebook manipulated user's News Feeds and collected massive amounts of "feelings" data.
  • Russian hackers aren't targeting Twitter tools like Austrian youngsters are; instead they've set their sights on the big shots: Western oil and gas companies. "The manner in which the Russian hackers are targeting the companies also gives them the opportunity to seize control of industrial control systems from afar," explained NYT contributor Nicole Perlroth.
  • Going to a movie across the pond? Don't wear your Google Glass unless you want to be accused of illegally recording a film as it plays in the theater.

Read previous Searchlight roundups: Chief marketing technologist emerges to align marketing and IT and Credit card data breach costs CIOs big time despite hacker profit on SearchCIO.

Next Steps

Read more about tablet use in the workplace in two news pieces on SearchCIO covering CIOs looking to say yes to iPads and the mobile-enabled enterprise, both by Executive Editor Linda Tucci.

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When do you predict your enterprise workers will do most of their business on tablets?