When tablet computers first launched, they were dismissed by many as a passing fad - nothing more than “big smartphones” with no place in the corporate world. Today, the iPad accounts for 1% of all global browsing and, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTec, more than 3.6 million people in the UK now own a tablet, a threefold increase on November 2010.
In the workplace, tablets can attribute a lot of their success to the increasing popularity of cloud computing. Storing and accessing information via the cloud is freeing businesses to fully embrace mobile working. Lots of organizations are opting for tablets as a tool of choice to enable staff to stay in touch whilst on the go, update reports in real-time and access corporate applications wherever they are.
It’s already well recognized that sales teams that showcase product information to prospects via tablets are getting much more engagement than those that are still relying upon traditional paper brochures.
The productivity and efficiency benefits are recognized the world over, much to the tablet manufacturer’s delight. In fact, in Apple’s last earnings call it revealed nearly half of the Global 500 are testing or deploying iPads within their organizations, with the likes of Xerox, Estee Lauder, Disney and Prudential Financial having already issued iPads to their workforce.
On top of the productivity benefits of working on the move, distributing cool technologies has a positive impact on morale, with many claiming that an iPad trumps on-site showers as the top staff perk.
However, many businesses are worried that, in order to get the functionality and efficiency that tablet computers can enable, they may have to sacrifice on security and control. As with any kind of mobile devices, the information held on tablets is incredibly valuable to its organization, and cyber criminals are attracted to this information – no matter where it is saved.
With that in mind, mobile threats have increased exponentially in recent years. The threats are pervasive; the device can be infected by downloading a malicious application, clicking on an infected link or through the network the device is using.
Despite the security risks, businesses know that they can’t stem the tide of adding new devices and operating systems to their workforce – they would risk losing competiveness. Forrester predicts that at least 33% percent of enterprises support multiple mobile operating systems. But this brings up another challenge, how businesses can manage, monitor and control the tablets and mobiles that are in use throughout their organization.
As we look to the future, it’s clear that organizations within the private and public sector are increasingly moving towards mobile workforces. In order to make this transition as smooth and easy as possible, the issues with security and management need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
To make sure that corporate data and emails are fully protected, businesses should invest in a solution that will allow them to securely deploy and manage any type of device. By placing confidential information inside a secure app environment and behind a firewall, organizations can ensure that information is kept safe, even if the device falls into the wrong hands or is connected to the web via an unsecured public internet connection.
Costis Papadimitrakopoulos is chief executive of mobile, telecom and e-business software firm Globo.