iPad adoption up to software vendors, IDC Canada says

Only nine per cent of Canadian businesses and IT executives expect to purchase tablets for their organization in the next 12 months, according to a recent IDC Canada Ltd. survey. While this number might suggest that media tablets are a fad that is ready to fizzle out over the next year, IDC Canada said the adoption rate was actually higher than it expected.

The research firm, which surveyed 300 Canadian businesses through July and August, said the interest from enterprises is as high as can be expected for a form factor that has been geared almost entirely to consumers.

“We were surprised by the adoption of tablets this year,” said Krista Napier, senior analyst of Canadian emerging technology and digital media at IDC Canada. “Hospitals, as well as some energy companies, are equipping their fleets of staff with them.”

“SAP even equipped their C-level execs with iPads,” she said.

In addition to the nine per cent of companies planning to roll out tablets, the survey also found that about 60 per cent of respondents said they didn’t feel there was any practical use for the devices in their business.

“It’s not because the business can’t afford it, it’s just that they can’t understand the value,” she said.

For Napier, these numbers do not indicate that media tablets are an overhyped, consumer fad, but rather, that businesses are slow to see the potential benefits. Any organization that wants to take advantage of real-time data and analytics will eventually have to move toward more usage of portable devices, she said.

She expects this to start as more vendors optimize their enterprise apps and services to tablet PCs. One company that has begun to make this shift is SAP AG, Napier said.

Earlier this week, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott launched 10 new SAP BusinessObjects apps that were designed with tablets in mind. McDermott outlined SAP’s vision to bring “real-time analytics data” to corporate level executives and line of business managers by demonstrating the new industry-specific BusinessObjects-based apps on an iPad.

Napier said that as more companies follow the lead of SAP, as well as IBM Corp., and start designing tablet optimized apps, business leaders will begin to get interested.

One reason Napier is so confident of the tablet’s viability in the enterprise is the support the devices have gotten from IT managers and c-level executives at organizations already using tablets.

Another survey question from the IDC Canada study asked early adopters where they are deploying their tablet devices.

“It’s actually the IT department that is the greatest adopter of this,” Napier said. A close second, she added, was the C-suite, which typically used the device to quickly review and scan information before meetings and conference calls.

Along with more tablet optimized apps, Napier expects more business capable features to arrive in the new batch of tablets expected over the next year. One big feature to watch out for, she said, is improved camera support to allow for better video conferencing from the road.

Cisco Systems Inc., Samsung Inc., Toshiba Corp. and HP Co. have all announced tablets that will soon bring more features businesses are demanding to the market, she added.

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