Willis said that initially, business applications in the commercial app stores were focused on personal productivity tools, which were inexpensive and allowed users to experiment liberally, and now 'success lies in how the vendor re-factors the apps in a meaningful way, rather than just duplicating the traditional desktop or browser experience.'
'Businesses also need to understand the difference between an enterprise and a consumer application, and have a decision framework to select them,' Willis suggested.
According to Gartner's latest forecast, worldwide media tablet sales to end users will total 63.6 million units in 2011, a 261.4 percent increase from 2010 sales of 17.6 million units, with sales continuing to experience strong growth through to the end of 2015 when sales are forecast to reach 326.3 million units.
'By 2016, more than 900 million tablets will be in the hands of users,' Willis said.
'As more consumers buy them, they then tend to bring them to the workplace and use them for their jobs - often led by executives. Leaders are finding legitimate business use and redefining processes for 'ready at hand' moments where other computer types are not as well adapted. CEOs often prefer tablets for distributing material for board of directors meetings. Salespeople are using them in client-facing situations; sales configuration tools help close more business and reduce error rates; sales and marketing leaders are using them as dashboards to their business; and marketers are designing campaigns around them. Doctors and nurses are carrying them; they are even being used on the manufacturing floor. Anywhere you once saw people carrying a clipboard or lugging printed reference material, you'll find an application for a tablet.'
Gartner also predicts that combined sales of tablets and smartphones will be 44 percent bigger than the PC market in 2011, and by the end of 2014, the installed base of devices based on new lightweight mobile operating systems like Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows 8 will exceed the total installed base of all PC based systems.
According to Willis, 'there are many highly visible 'quick wins' for tablets such as board books and sales automation, which the CIO can use to break new ground.'
'But not all tablet apps are created equal from an enterprise perspective. Businesses must evaluate tablet apps based on functionality and business process integration, user factors, system integration, management and security, application architecture and vendor viability.'
Gartner recommends that, before handing out media tablets to employees for enterprise use, all devices have a corporate suite of applications and utilities installed by default. According to Gartner, this process serves a number of purposes: to provide security in compliance with policies; to manage the device as an asset; software licensing; convenience; better collaboration; and to more effectively use the device quickly. Out of the box, a user may operate insecurely, more expensively, less collaboratively and may be frustrated.
Combined sales of tablets and smartphones will be 44 percent bigger than the PC market in 2011, according to Gartner predictions. By the end of 2014, the installed base of devices based on new lightweight mobile operating systems like Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows 8 will exceed the total installed base of all PC based systems.
The top 10 commercial business application categories for tablet devices listed by Gartner are:
1. Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations, and ordering systems
2. Business intelligence: analytical and performance applications with management dashboards
3. Containerised email to separate corporate messaging environments from personal email
4. Collaboration applications for meetings
5. File utilities for sharing and document distribution
6. General corporate/government enterprise applications for CRM, ERP, SCM and messaging
7. Medical support systems for doctors, nurses, and physical therapists
8. Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments
9. Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
10. Board books for secure document and report distribution