Sunday, November 07, 2010

Tablet Computers Prescribed for Business

Gartner Inc. forecasts 54.8 million tablet computers sold in 2011, due to the popularity of the Apple iPad. Gartner recommends least "concierge" support for executive iPad users in organisations and widespread support by mid-2011.

Helping executives with their iPads is a good idea for IT staff of organisations. Staff are going to buy iPads and use them regardless of the official procurement policy of the organisation. Junior staff can be disciplined for use of unauthorised equipment, but executives cannot, so IT support should put in place a "harm minimisation" scheme. This will reduce the risk of the iPads to the security of the organisation's IT system.

iPad support could include executive information systems, similar to those provided in the late 1990s. These provided essentially prepared slide shows on computer to senior executives. A similar service for the iPad would minimise the need for access to critical and sensitive corporate systems.

Rather than a policy of widespread iPad support, I suggest organisations should look at how mobile computing can be used. This should include smart phones, tablet computers and net books. Unless there is a compelling case, "Apps" which run on only one platform (such as the iPad) should be avoided. Instead web based software, including elements of HTML5, can be used to provide applications on a wide range of mobile platforms as well as conventional desktop web browsers.

If tight vertical integration is required, organisations should look beyond the iPad. As an example, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is porting its "Tactical Situational Awareness Application Suite" (TactSA) to Google Android.

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