Tablets Gain Momentum Among Businesses Worldwide: AMI Report

SMBs are increasingly turning to tablets and cloud applications to boost their business, an AMI study finds.

Small to midsize businesses that have embraced mobile devices generated 40 percent higher revenue growth over the last 12 months compared with those that did not, according to a report from IT research firm AMI-Partners. Until recently, smartphones and notebooks have been the primary tools to process information wirelessly, but tablets are quickly catching on.

Worldwide SMB tablet penetration, however, remains low, at about 3 percent, and tablets still have a long way to go before becoming a mainstream IT asset, the report noted.

AMI's research also indicated that as the mobile workforce trend continues, mobile devices, including tablet PCs, will play an integral part in supporting these employees.

"SMB tablet adoption has been highly fragmented across industries," Michael McDonald, senior associate of worldwide SMB sizing for AMI-Partners, said in a statement. "We see the strongest interest in professional services, health care, hospitality and the media businesses. The early adopters realize the intrinsic value in having a highly mobile device that enables users to immediately access data, process information and respond accordingly."

An additional AMI study has shown that firms with tablets use SAAS (software as a service) applications 20 percent more than those without. As a content consumption device, the use of productivity suites and document collaboration tools is especially high in tablet firms. Hosted document collaboration usage among tablet users is more than double that of nontablet SMBs, while hosted productivity suite use is nearly 50 percent higher.

"This steady move and reliance on cloud infrastructure and applications have put pressure on IT networking resources, namely bandwidth," the report noted. "The increased load on networks has led, in part, to tablet firms increasing their bandwidth speeds, which are now over 10 percent higher than firms without tablets."

McDonald said firms that have embraced tablets are increasingly moving resources to the cloud, increasing the utility of the tablet. AMI's "2010-2011 Worldwide SMB Cloud Service" study examined the SMB cloud opportunity in 23 countries, including preferences for cloud-based application bundles, price sensitivity and purchase channel preferences.

"SMB adoption is expected to accelerate as broadband speeds increase and heightened competition drives prices down. We expect average prices to drop nearly 50 percent by 2013," McDonald said. "The tablet PC has almost limitless potential in the SMB space where the device can entrench itself as a valuable resource essential to the on-the-go businessman. The ability of manufacturers, software providers and service providers to adapt to the changing demands of business users will be critical to future success."