For this situation to change, enterprise software vendors must make a move toward a hosted environment where there is better support for tablet apps, as well as develop touch interfaces. It's happening, albeit slowly. Vendors such as Salesforce.com are developing solid tablet apps and putting pressure on traditional enterprise software vendors to modernize their platforms for mobile devices.
"This is going to take some time," Johnson says. "We're probably a year or two away from really good tablet support for traditional enterprise apps."
It's important to note that "evolution of modernization" is more than just accessing data on a tablet. Some enterprise software can be occasionally accessed over the iPad's mobile Safari browser, but the tablet isn't good for regular use and deep dives.
"We find several cases where many companies have their versions of Siebel or SAP, where other things are installed, in which case the iPad Safari browser experience isn't compatible," Johnson says.
One vendor making strides is Apple itself, especially with core productivity apps. Last month, Apple updated its suite of iWork apps for iOS (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) to make it easier for the apps to work with iWork for Mac and, most importantly, Microsoft Office.
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Another hurdle for iPads to make if they are to replace laptops involves security. Tablets will have to move toward a pervasive zero-trust security model, Johnson says. That's when CIOs no longer have to worry about security of the device, because security is being handled at the network and data levels. Right now, companies are using proxies and access gateways for tablets.
"This is going to be three to four years out, at least," Johnson says.
Forrester is also keeping an eye on iOS and Android being used as primary operating systems, which would be a sure sign that the iPad is replacing the venerable laptop. When employees hook up iPads to larger monitors and other peripherals either wirelessly or via the dock connector, CIOs can start unhooking laptops.
"If we start to see those form factors and use cases develop, that'll be another indicator that the iPad and other tablets are a bit more mainstream for business apps," Johnson says.