Tablets and smartphones have become are ubiquitous tools for the corporate workforce. Over the past year, the PC market has taken a beating from the burgeoning tablet market -- specifically the Apple iPad . Earlier this month, research firm Gartner reported that worldwide PC shipments are expected to remain weak throughout 2012. Part of that sluggishness is because many consumers and enterprises are spending their money on trendy tablets instead of on a new laptop.
Many professionals who travel for work, and even those anchored in the office, have their own smartphone, if not a smartphone issued by the company.
People get attached to their mobile devices, said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. They're going to be frustrated if they can't use enterprise social tools on their favorite devices.
"It's critically important that companies ensure their tools work on a range of business and consumer devices," added Olds. "If they confine their tools to desktops and laptops, they'll get a lot of user complaints and they won't get as much participation as they hope ... Some employees, particularly executives, are sort of spoiled when it comes to their shiny new device. They don't understand, or don't want to understand, why everything doesn't just automatically work on them."
Those executives are in a position to put a lot of pressure on IT to make sure they get what they want.
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said younger workers are especially attached to their smartphones and tablets and may balk at using social tools on bigger computers.
"Tablets and smartphones are the devices of choice for mobile workers," Kerravala said. "Making sure the tools work on their favorite devices is very critical to attract younger workers ."
Olds noted that companies can use a phased approach, rolling out social tools for the desktop and laptop first, if need be. But that better be just the beginning.
"They'd better plan on providing support for tablets and smartphones sooner rather than later," he said. "And they need to tell users that this support is on the way."