An iPad for Every Employee? Not so fast!

The commercial success of the iPad has lead to a flurry of articles predicting the impending introduction of tablets into the corporate environment. I own an iPad and I noticed that several of my co-workers and customers are bringing theirpersonal iPads with them to work. So I decided to ask them what they use their iPads for – after all, they also own laptops.

Here are their answers:

– Check calendar and mail
– Read documents
– Take notes
– Look up information on the web
– Social media (mostly Twitter)
– Demo online applications
– Use leisure apps while traveling (watch movies, play games)

For the mobile workforce and anyone who must demo to customers a tablet is a great tool – although the screen is small than a laptop, you can easily carry it anywhere. If you store your documents in the cloud, you have everything you need at your fingertips. In addition, connectivity is a breeze and battery life is great and outlasts any laptop.

However, for most knowledge workers, the functionality of tablets is not enough to seamlessly perform daily activities. Even using a solution like Citrix, that allows you to run applications on any device, it’s not a complete alternative to a laptop or desktop PC. Despite the hype and the ease of use, tablets have their limitations.

For one, the screen is fairly small. If you want to write a document you need a separate keyboard, the onscreen one won’t cut it if you write a couple of pages. You can not arrange or overlay applications and switch between them as you can on a laptop or PC. Going through spreadsheets is cumbersome at best and creating illustrated presentations not easy. And let’s not touch on subjects like corporate security, management tools and virus scanners, these programs are simply not available yet.

Considering these limitations, I do not think that tablets will fully replace laptops and PC’s anytime soon. That’s not to say that a tablet could not be useful for special groups of workers, but the current functionality means that knowledge workers will use it as a 3rd device, in addition to their laptop and smartphone.

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