Business Embraces Tablets-With Caution Dual-Persona Technology
Some companies have chosen tablets that fit a particular need. Verizon Wireless has currently deployed some 100 Cius tablets, built by Cisco with the aim of integrating a number of its branded products (including Cisco TelePresence and Cisco WebEx meeting applications) onto a mobile hardware platform. The Android-based Cius was launched this summer as a tablet primarily for business.Verizon is also interested in what Kemmerer termed "dual-persona technology," which can segment the "personal sandbox" on an employee's device-presumably loaded with games and the like-away from a virtual operating system loaded with his or her business apps. Other vendors have their eye on the business market. Earlier this year, Research In Motion launched the PlayBook, which relies on a QNX-based operating system. Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis admitted on the company's Sept. 15 earnings call that sales of the PlayBook were "below where we'd like it to be," but said that the tablet will "ultimately be successful." Lenovo also recently launched its ThinkPad tablet. It runs Android 3.1 (a variant of the "Honeycomb" build for tablets) and boasts a set of business-ready accessories, including a digital stylus and a keyboard dock. According to research firm Gartner, tablet sales will reach 54.8 million units in 2011, with predicted sales of 208 million by 2014. That's a very tempting install base. Accordingly, the hardware and software options available for consumers and businesses will almost certainly continue to proliferate. Despite that, the needs of both the enterprise and SMBs will surely stay the same: security, opportunities for development, tools for segregating personal apps away from business ones, and the ability to integrate and play well with legacy applications. That's a lot of complexity facing your typical IT administrator or CIO, but at least they'll have options to fit their needs.
"We needed something for collaboration and to bring people into the moment," said Chris Kemmerer, director of unified communication and mobility solutions for Verizon Wireless. In addition to the mobility benefits of a 7-inch tablet, the Cius offers a broad array of communications functionality, the ability to control security policies and access to specific apps (and block access to the Android Marketplace), and lengthy battery life. Verizon's developers can leverage the Android platform to rapidly create new internal apps.