Tablets today are not really meeting the needs of business users today, especially in specific industries or vertical markets. Let's face it most are built for consumers, yet sometimes we as consumers use our tablets for business purposes. I am certainly guilty of that with my Samsung Galaxy tab, and my husband with his iPad.
The push and growth of the iPAD is for now the dominant tablet used in business, but if you really dig into the use in the industries, there are many purpose-built devices that are specific to certain industries. Take for example touch screen handhelds used for POS and inventory management at Home Depots, or Prescription Management devices used in hospitals. Some of these devices have 1 to 4 specific applications, and that is it. The enterprise has long looked at consumer devices and have modified them to be used for business purposes, and now the tablet world is ready for this.
Businesses today seek secure devices, that can be managed across the enterprise, as well as loaded with just the business tools and applications required. It is really all about productivity, efficiency, security, and management. Despite the trend of 'open' platforms and devices, businesses today (especially enterprises) still want either complete or a high level of control, and the world of mobile devices is an area that will have to be addressed, especially as we move more towards BYOD or Bring Your Own Device into the workplace.
What does this mean for today's Business IT departments and decision-makers? This means that tablets or even smartphones today need to be business-ready (even if they are BYOD) and loaded/pre-loaded with applications for different business operations and processes or made available as a bare-bones device where a business can pick and choose mobile applications needed (whether they are in-house or off the shelf). In addition, there is also a need to have solutions that enable different or varying profiles of users, so IT teams can create groups or levels of users that only get access to specific work mobile applications and capabilities. Mobile Device Management or MDM will have to address the increasing adoption of tablets in the business market. Verizon is one such provider that has specifically launched a solution addressing these changing dynamics.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions, last week at CTIA 2012, announced the launch of their 'Blank Slate' tablet solution. Essentially, Verizon has partnered with the Android-based Device Manufacturers to completely remove all pre-loaded applications, and to top it off, the tablets are housed in a durable, industrial-ready housing that would be best for industrial verticals and even retailers or ANY industry worried about their employees dropping and damaging these expensive work investments. This solution, combined with the Verizon Private Applications Store for Business, allows customers to select from a group of Android-based industrial-ready tablets then they can manage profiles and add applications available and specific to the one company. This allows for the business to create varying levels of access and manage the applications loaded based on the job title and tools needed per employee group. Initial industries Verizon is targeting include financial, transportation, and financial services. Some further details are provided below:
EXAMPLE TABLET: TUFFnote Astro
- Rugged tablet designed for enterprise solutions
– 10.1" resistive touch screen for durability
– Long battery life (up to 7 hours on embedded batter and 14 hours with optional secondary battery)
– Long life cycle
– Embedded 3LM for security
- Secure Android platform using 3LM MDM embedded into the OS
– Secure USB
– Image Lock
– Secure Private Store Front from Verizon Wireless
– No Gmail, Google Talk or Android Market Place
- Custom image for enterprise applications
- Certified MIL STD-810G and IP54 NEMA 13
- Optional Outdoor viewable screen
- Purpose built accessories for wide range of applications, including; Docking Station, Vehicle Docking Station, MSR, Bar Code Scanner, Shoulder Strap, Hand Strap, Stylus
Other Sources: http://www.mobelisktech.com/photos.php
The "Blank Slate" Verizon solution is a step in the right direction, but the industry as a whole will continue to be challenged with businesses that prefer the Apple iPAD tablet...and getting through the hurdles of iOS is a whole other ballgame. Every industry and sub-industry will have specific needs and opportunities with tablet devices, but the industry will have to continue to address security, regulatory requirements, enterprise mobile device management, and a certain level of customization. Early adopters and the most promising verticals for tablet usage include Education, Retail, Services (Especially those with dispatched workers, Repair workers, and logistics/inventory employees), and Professional Services.
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Stephanie Atkinson - Managing Partner at Compass Intelligence, High-Tech Consultant/Analyst, Mother, TX Aggie, Dallas native, TX hillcountry resident, Interests: Tech, Telecom, Mobility, M2M,and the use of Tech in business. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter.