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Tablets turn heads, but when it’s time to get work done, corporations are still showing their love for the laptop.
Bruce Smith is feeling some tablet pressure. As director of computing services for Cummins Inc., Smith helps the company’s 40,000 employees get the right computers for their jobs.

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  1. 1. 08/09/2011 04:50 Sorry, tablets. Laptops still dominate the enterprise | Laptop Usage Tips Sorry, tablets. Laptops still dominate the That’s one win for the laptop. But will it be a short- enterprise | Laptop Usage Tips term victory? Tablets turn heads, but when it’s time to get work Already tablets are taking over many of the mobile done, corporations are still showing their love for computing duties in the consumer market. Now, IT the laptop. leaders say they’re seeing those same consumers come to work expecting to use them in the office. Bruce Smith is feeling some tablet pressure. As director of computing services for Cummins Inc., But as tech managers examine whether tablets can Smith helps the company’s 40,000 employees get really do the job that laptops have been doing suc- the right computers for their jobs. cessfully for many years, most are finding that ta- blets aren’t quite capable, says Ali Tehrani, director of engineering at Presidio Networked Solutions, part of consulting firm Presidio Inc. in Greenbelt, Md. For a majority of those em- ployees, it’s a desktop PC. For Sales figures show Smith’s continued support of the mobile professionals, it’s a lap- laptop is shared by others. According to research top. Select employees, such as firm Gartner Inc., there were more than 204 million engineers, get both a laptop and laptops shipped worldwide in 2010, compared with a workstation capable of high-capacity computing. 17.6 million tablets sold to end users. Sales in both categories are expected to rise in 2011 and 2012, Now there’s a new possibility on the horizon. Smith with laptops projected to continue dominating. says lately he’s been getting more and more requests Gartner estimates nearly 233 million laptops will from workers throughout the organization, from ship in 2011, while nearly 70 million tablets will executives to HR, to deviate from the standard selec- be bought by consumers and businesses. In 2012, tion and bring tablets into the mix at the Columbus, 276 million laptops are expected to ship vs. sales of Ind.-based company, which designs, manufactures, 108.2 million tablets. distributes and services engines and related tech- nologies. So far he has said no. “We don’t yet deliver or support any kind of tablet,”joliprint Smith says, explaining that he can’t justify supplying workers with tablets instead of laptops because, in his opinion, they don’t deliver any more value or efficiency than laptops. Printed with Page 1
  2. 2. 08/09/2011 04:50 Sorry, tablets. Laptops still dominate the enterprise | Laptop Usage Tips Where tablets fall short (with the notable exception of BlackBerry and its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software). Even when companies develop their own security and support around tablets, many find that workers still require laptops for their full-size screens, physi- cal keyboards and higher computing functionality, Tehrani says. That leaves companies facing the choice of either buying yet another computing device for employees or saying no altogether. “Our clients don’t see [ta- blets] as replacing laptops and desktops. They see them as augmenting them, just like the BlackBerry doesn’t replace your laptop,” he says. “This is pretty much the beginning of the beginning,” Daoud says. “We haven’t seen major announcements or deployments yet, because almost all of the tablet industry in general has been focused on the consu- mer and ‘prosumer’ market — the small business or Tony Young, CIO at Informatica Corp. in Redwood executive. But there’s been clearly a lot of demand City, Calif., which specializes in data integration, says in the enterprise space.” about 90% of the computers used by the company’s 2,200 employees are laptops. The remaining 10% Enterprise software companies are investing in are high-end desktops used by engineers who need developing applications specifically designed for maximum computing power. business uses on tablet devices, he points out, citing key players like SAP, GE Healthcare and Siemens. Young says he expects those figures to stay that way for the foreseeable future, because laptops offer the But for now, “you see the executive suite using the functionality and power required by employees, par- iPad, but not any substantial business applications ticularly the sales staff. “We sell enterprise software, being used,” he says. “There will be classes of mobile and you can’t demo it on an iPad,” he says. workers who will be a prime target when these key players move forward with business applications When employees request a tablet, Young asks and a value proposition that makes sense [for en- whether it will help them do a better job or make terprise organizations]. But we’re not there yet.” more sales. “They answer no. There’s not an ROI. A tablet doesn’t move that needle,” he says. Some manufacturers, such as BlackBerry-makerjoliprint Research In Motion, are moving forward with Beyond ROI, Tehrani says, companies are still more business applications — but don’t expect any struggling with how best tosecure tablets and the breakthroughs anytime soon. corporate data on them, as they don’t come with Printed with enterprise-level support and security applications Page 2
  3. 3. 08/09/2011 04:50 Sorry, tablets. Laptops still dominate the enterprise | Laptop Usage Tips “The business sector will see growing interest pro- Francisco-based company, which employs 36,400 bably as early as next year with Microsoft’s possible people worldwide. release of Windows 8. Microsoft has been solidly entrenched in the [enterprise] sector and is likely In addition to desktops, McKesson has 16,000 laptops to want to stimulate a solid apps market. But that deployed and supports about 3,000 tablets, about would happen in a couple of years’ time frame.” half of which are supplied by the company and the other brought in by employees themselves, Spratt For now, companies will continue to favor laptops says. for workers with mobile needs, he says, noting that many large companies continue to choose Spratt says company policy allows employees, wor- desktops over both types of mobile devices be- king with their managers, to determine whether cause they’re cheaper and last longer. “We still they need a desktop or some type of mobile PC — see a large number of companies where desktops either a laptop or tablet. account for 60% to 70% of their base,” he says. For managers, the key is to determine which workers are better served by laptops and which would do well with tablets, he says. “There are those who fundamentally need to read information and those who need to create informa- tion,” he says. “If you’re primarily reading, then I see people making great use of iPads and iPhones. The mobility, the instant-on, the lightweight nature and the network accessibility — wherever you are — are great features that make these great for infor- mation users. But for information creators, they’re less useful.” Spratt himself is case in point. He has an iPad 2, a Information readers vs. creators laptop and a Kindle. “So I’m picking the best tool for the particular need,” he says, adding that he At McKesson Corp., a Fortune 500 healthcare ser- also uses a desktop for its higher performance and vices and IT company, the desktop still reigns su- big screen. preme, with laptops holding their own and tablets beginning to gain a tiny toe-hold. “There are many workers who just have desk- tops. We have a significant population that havejoliprint no need for mobile computing — nonexempt wor- kers, administrative workers whose primary job is keyboarding during the day,” says Randy Spratt, executive vice president, CIO and CTO at the San Printed with Page 3
  4. 4. 08/09/2011 04:50 Sorry, tablets. Laptops still dominate the enterprise | Laptop Usage Tips Laptop or tablet? Both please! Macomber and other IT managers say tablets today are in equal parts appealing and limited for corpo- rate business use. “The tablet is ultra-transportable, requires no boot time, has none of the [technical] problems that laptops have and so far no real virus threats, which is all great,” Macomber notes. But it has limitations, too, he says, including limi- ted robust core application availability, lack of sto- rage expandability, cumbersome access to stored network data and a dependence on third-party support channels. For now, the laptop remains the winner in most enterprises. But its days as victor may be numbe- red. Industry analysts and IT leaders predict that the laptop and the tablet will eventually meld, with the best of each influencing the other as the designs evolve. Indeed, the use of multiple devices is the emerging “Give it two years from now,” Daoud says. “You’ll see trend among many enterprises, which are commit- a morphing of the two products so the distinction ted to laptops for most mobile functions while still is very difficult to make.” exploring the potential of tablets. See also: At the University of Pennsylvania, Mark Aseltine, executive director of technology support services, says the university’s IT department is analyzing what job functions could be better served by tablets and CloudTag: tablets , Laptops , dominate , enterprise which still need the functionality of a laptop. , Dell d830 Battery , Sony vgp-bps8 battery , Hp pa- vilion dv6 battery , Hp pavilion dv4 battery “We’ll get to that point where there’s a clear un- derstanding of what needs a tablet will fulfill well Tags: Dell d830 Battery, dominate, enterprise, Hp versus a laptop option, and therefore which class pavilion dv4 battery, Hp pavilion dv6 battery, Lap- of users will need one or the other. We’re just not tops, Sony vgp-bps8 battery, Tablets there yet,” he says. Macomber himself uses an iPad for email, task ma-joliprint nagement, note-taking and more, but acknowledges that it’s a personal, rather than enterprise-driven, preference. “It has made a difference in how I work, but I have also had users sell their tablets and return Printed with to a laptop.” Page 4