Purchases of tablet PCs by consumers who then take them to work are driving the adoption of these devices by small and medium businesses, a new report shows. Nearly 9 million tablets are now being used by SMBs, with health care and financial services firms leading the trend.
Slightly more than half of all the 8.87 million tablets in use by SMBs were purchased by individuals and adopted for business use, according to a new survey by TechAisle, an SMB information technology research firm. Reflecting those strong consumer roots, the iPad dominates among very small businesses (1-19 employees), but Android is beginning to make inroads among the larger small businesses and midsize ones.
Overall, the report said, 64 percent of SMBs have adopted a single tablet operating system such as iOS.
The good news for the computer industry, including both large and small resellers, is that this trend has not ushered traditional desktop and notebook computers into premature retirement —71 percent of SMBs are using tablets as an additional device rather than as replacements.
But there are replacement rumblings. While most purchases are intended to be add-ons to existing PCs, larger SMBs are expressing a desire to replace notebooks with these devices. The majority of the SMBs that said they plan to acquire tablet computers over the next 12 months (77 percent) will be repeat buyers.
Actual purchase decisions, the report said, will be driven by intense scrutiny and analysis of device capabilities. Lighter notebooks with better battery life and instant-on capabilities could ward off replacement by tablet PCs, TechAisle reported. Issues concerning security, compatibility and the lack of a physical keyboard were cited as the key inhibitors to tablet adoption.
While SMBs plan to expand usage of tablets, broader adoption will hinge on the availability of appropriate business and productivity applications .
Reflecting the still-nascent state of business tablet use, a majority of SMBs do not have a formal policy on tablet use. Midsize businesses, however, have been quicker than small businesses to add one, however; nearly half (48 percent) of MBs have established such a policy.
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