More than half of small and midsize businesses in the United States have employees using a tablet computer, according to a study by market strategy specialist iGR. The survey of more than 400 businesses found that 52 percent currently use a tablet like an Apple iPad or Google Android-powered device to help run their business.
Approximately 47 percent of SMB respondents said that they use their tablet for both work and personal matters. While directors, managers and staff were more likely to use the tablet for personal matters, higher-level personnel were more likely to report using their tablet for work.
The most reported reason for purchasing additional tablets in 2012 was "substituting for laptops" (31.9 percent), followed by "workforce is increasing" (31 percent). However, the majority of companies with plans to buy tablets indicated that their plans to purchase notebooks remained about the same.
The allure of tablet devices is also changing the way businesses plan future IT investments, the report indicated. Approximately 26 percent of respondents said that their company would be buying fewer or far fewer laptops as a result of their tablet purchases in 2012, while 24 percent of SMBs surveyed indicated supplying corporate tablet devices to employees as part of an official policy.
Technology management is also changing in response to the growing influence of tablets at work. IT departments surveyed were likely to oversee the purchase, management, maintenance and support of desktop computers (90 percent), and laptops and netbooks (89 percent), but only 55 percent of SMBs managed and maintained tablet devices.
Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, said the enterprise arena in particular is one area in which tablets are anticipated to climb, citing their use among airlines and financial services firms, which have been using the devices to augment or replace existing business processes and practices. "But as our new research clearly shows, tablets are in wide use in small and medium-sized businesses as well, he said in a statement. Given that tablets are negatively impacting laptop purchases, this trend looks to continue."
Adoption of tablets by small-business owners is part of a larger trend, suggesting explosive growth in the tablet market for the foreseeable future. A recent report from Futuresource Consulting said tablet sales are expected to increase by 200 percent over the next two years and tablet apps will account for 20 percent of mobile apps by 2016. Global tablet sales exceeded 64 million units in 2011 and are on track to soar to 232 million units in 2016, Futuresource projected.