Goldman flag on Intel stock means IT must adapt to iPads

Drive to consumerization, work-on-any-device IT is accelerating

A warning from Goldman Sachs that the investment potential of Microsoft and Intel have slipped because of their weak response to growth of tablets is mostly focused on investors, but is a red flag to anyone making strategic IT decisions as well.

In a report published over the weekend, Goldman analyst Bill Shope predicted that as many as a third of the PCs sold during 2011 will actually be tablets.

That will bring the growth rate in PC sales from the low teens -- as predicted by IDC and Gartner -- to between 5 percent and 8 percent, the report said.

More importantly, the tablets will not run on an Intel/Microsoft platform that has is the basis of almost all of corporate computing, including security, application support and access so applications, networks and data.

Goldman hardware analyst Bill Shope, which was published over the weekend.

Most of the tablets will run either iOS or Android (he left out ChromeOS) Shope wrote. "If this is the case and our tablet forecast is anywhere near accurate, this would be the first time in three decades that a non-Wintel technology has made legitimate inroads into personal computing," the report continued.

Despite studies predicting users -- especially those between 18 and 27 years old -- prefer to use smartphones, tablets or other things that are not PCs, Microsoft and Intel have had their feet stuck in the mud.

Even Microsoft's designated software visionary, Ray Ozzie, warned in his retirement speech that Microsoft was moving into a "post-PC world" and would have to adjust to both new devices and new networked platforms like the cloud.

Microsoft and Intel are apparently waiting until early 2011, when Intel's upcoming Oak Trail processor for mobile devices hits the OEM channel for both smartphones and tablets.

Intel is bullish about the 35 tablet designs ready for Oak Trail, and has reorganized to move into tablets more quickly. Goldman Sachs's Shope wrote that catching up with Apple will be a tough.

Not only does Intel not have a tablet-specific processor, Microsoft doesn't have a good touch-enabled OS, and won't until 2012, when Windows 8 is scheduled to ship, according to another Goldman analyst, Sarah Friar.

What that means for IT is that, even if you're moving as fast as you can to figure out how to adapt your security and application-access controls to support the iPhones and iPads C-level execs are carrying in to your office with smug looks on their faces, you'll have to move faster.

Not only will a lot of employees get tablets for Christmas, they'll buy them for themselves for the cool factor and convenience and want to get to all their corporate email and documents.

If they can't, they'll move data you'd prefer would stay safe inside the firewall out to Dropbox, Box.net or mail attachments to themselves via Gmail or other services, and download them to iPads over which you have absolutely no control.

Data loss protection software can help, but not as quickly as you're going to need it if you haven't started looking into it already, and not if it's not used properly, or at all.

It's all part of the overall consumerization of IT that most IT people resisted as reducing the security and eroding the good governance of information and technology.

The impulse toward good governance is good, but resisting consumerization is futile.

You can't stop it, or probably even slow it down without forcing users to dodge around you. The best you can do is get ahead of users and find ways to make the toys they want to work with into real tools.

It won't be easy, but users might be more cooperative because you seem to be trying to help, rather than trying to hold them back. It's happened before.

Besides, think of all the cool toys you'll get to play with during your "research."

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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