Tablets are coming to an enterprise near you

Deloitte predicts 1 in 4 tablet purchases this year will be made by businesses

Usually enterprises are slow to adopt new user technology, mainly due to security and integration issues. Not so with tablet computers, according to Deloitte, which recently predicted that one in four tablet purchases this year will be made by enterprises. In terms of hard numbers, Deloitte thinks enterprises will buy more than 10 million tablets. (Also see: The imminent tablet explosion) When you realize tablets have been in the marketplace for less than a year -- Apple's iPad debuted last April -- that's a remarkable forecast. Of course, it is just a forecast, but even if it ends up being only somewhat on the mark, it's a testament to the unusual phenomenon of the tablet. The research firm cites several factors powering the tablet revolution. Chief among them is the fact that the convergence of work and play as a result of our increasingly mobile workforce is reflected and abetted by our computing devices. Everyone checks their work email from their personal laptops and smartphones now. Tablets are no different. Tablets also are catching on in several specific industries where portability is highly valued. Deloitte says the health care and retail sectors alone could account for 5 million tablet sales. The manufacturing industry also is experimenting with employee tablets. And the rapid infiltration of tablets into the workplace is increasing the demand for enterprise applications written specifically for the devices, Deloitte said. Finally, tablets are compact yet easy to use, making them attractive not just in the home, but in the office as well. Apple's iPad has led the tablet revolution and is expected to be the most common device in the enterprise, but many competitors such as Samsung's Galaxy, RIM's PlayBook and Motorola Xoom are flooding the market this year and also should establish a foothold at work. Good luck, IT departments.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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