IT Managers Need to Start Setting Tablet Support Policies Now

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-08-25 Print this article Print


The essential issue is access to information. You need that access whether you're in a meeting, on the way to work or wherever. You're already expected to have all of the information necessary to do your job at your fingertips all the time now. This need will only grow more intense. 

This is where tablets, regardless of what you call them, really shine. They're smaller and lighter than a meeting folder, they hold vastly more information, and they can be updated in real time. They're not the best platform for content creation, and there are some things they're really not much good at, but that's beside the point-the tablet format is very good at the one thing that people need most, which is access to information. 

Exactly how this shakes out remains to be seen. Apple has a big lead in that part of the market that's aimed at things you're likely to need in a consumer setting. This setting can also include some types of office use and some roles in the enterprise. But just as the iPhone isn't used by everybody, so the iPad won't be the only solution to the demand for tablets. 

It's a safe bet that HP's long history of meeting stringent compliance requirements will give it a leg up in business roles that are governed by compliance demands. And it's a safe bet that Android tablets will appear for those people who don't want an iPad. But what's also clear is that this market is on the verge of exploding as soon as a few minor supply and distribution problems get worked out. It seems like the tablet tsunami will come pounding down upon us in six months or less, perhaps by the end of 2010. 

This, of course, has big implications for you and your enterprise. You're going to have to decide what tablets will be acceptable for your company, and what you're going to be required to do to make them work with your enterprise. You'll also have to decide who is going to buy the device, how it's going to be managed, and what you'll need in terms of staff and resources to manage it. 

In some ways, the challenge will be closer to handling smartphones than laptop computers, but not completely. And at times, you're going to have to get tough with the rules so that you can avoid those pesky compliance auditors and their questions. But however you look at it, you can't avoid the rise of the tablets. 

My suggestion is that you start learning as much as you can as quickly as you can. Set up a means of testing them when they become available, and buy a couple copies of those that have promise. Start figuring out the answer with a couple of iPads, since you can get them now. You're going to need all of the head start you can get. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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