Business applications for the iPad and other tablet devices are moving beyond the first wave of personal productivity tools towards manageable and secure enterprise applications that support major business initiatives, according to Gartner Inc.
According to Gartner vice president and analyst David Willis, initially, business applications in the commercial app stores were focused on personal productivity tools, which were inexpensive and allowed users to experiment liberally.
Now, major software vendors are taking the tablet seriously and embracing the market, following where users want to take the platform, he said. As media tablets become more common in business, ERP, CRM and other business application vendors are looking to sell tablet versions of their software, but they will not all be equally usable or functional.
Success lies in how the vendor re-factors the apps in a meaningful way, rather than just duplicating the traditional desktop or browser experience, said Willis. Businesses also need to understand the difference between an enterprise and a consumer application, and have a decision framework to select them.
According to Gartners latest forecast, worldwide media tablet sales to end users will total 63.6 million units in 2011, a 261.4 percent increase from 2010 sales of 17.6 million units. Media tablet sales will continue to experience strong growth through to the end of 2015 when sales are forecast to reach 326.3 million units.
By 2016, more than 900 million tablets will be in the hands of users, Willis said. As more consumers buy them, they then tend to bring them to the workplace and use them for their jobs often led by executives. Leaders are finding legitimate business use and redefining processes for ready at hand moments where other computer types are not as well adapted. CEOs often prefer tablets for distributing material for board of directors meetings. Salespeople are using them in client-facing situations..."
Combined sales of tablets and smartphones will be 44 percent bigger than the PC market in 2011, according to Gartner predictions. By the end of 2014, the installed base of devices based on new lightweight mobile operating systems like Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows 8 will exceed the total installed base of all PC based systems.
According to Gartner, the top 10 commercial business application categories for tablet devices are:
1. Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations, and ordering systems
2. Business intelligence: analytical and performance applications with management dashboards
3. Containerised email to separate corporate messaging environments from personal email
4. Collaboration applications for meetings
5. File utilities for sharing and document distribution
6. General corporate/government enterprise applications for CRM, ERP, SCM and messaging
7. Medical support systems for doctors, nurses, and physical therapists
8. Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments
9. Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
10. Board books for secure document and report distribution