Tablets have been carried into the workplace by employees for years now, but those are usually in bring your own device (BYOD) scenarios, bringing security and manageability risks along with it. More recently, IT departments have been deploying tablets and 2-in-1s in a corporate-liable scenario instead. Some of it has replaced existing corporate-managed clamshell notebooks, but perhaps the more exciting thing is where these devices augment the existing fleet, particularly in field-force or customer-facing situations. These devices are not only secure, but more importantly, enable employees to make faster decisions, improve productivity and create real business value, possibly even enabling new business processes for efficiency and/or a competitive edge.
One scenario that is commonly seen in markets like Singapore is in the retail and food and beverage sectors. With a severe manpower shortage in the country, businesses have been embracing the Singapore government’s Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme by deploying various technologies in a customer-facing environment. Examples include anything as basic as an iPad-based menu to one that also places orders (thus alleviating the pressure to hire more wait staff) or even one that acts as a smart queuing kiosk, effectively being an electronic maître d' that has the ability to automatically text or call customers on their mobile phones when their tables are ready and without the need to distribute paging devices.
Retail of course is just one of the many examples in play. IDC did a survey of over 1,600 IT decision makers in the Asia region this year that showed that the services and banking industries (in addition to retail) were some of the most likely verticals to procure tablets this year. Use cases include insurance agents getting quotations on the fly to even other non-customer-facing sectors like manufacturing where ruggedized tablets bolted to forklifts help keep the supply chain and operations running. Other examples include everything from healthcare to the public sector. In fact, some of the biggest commercial tablet deployments in Asia in the past few years have been in the education space. One of the other things that will help enable the use of tablets in the enterprise this year is the arrival of Windows 10 in the second half of the year. IDC believes that Windows 10 is a step in the right direction with a smoother and more natural interface, all while supporting legacy applications. Indeed, the value of Windows 10 is even more apparent in 2-in-1s, where features like Continuum make the transition from notebook-to-tablet mode much more seamless.
As momentum continues to build in this space, IDC expects more and more deployments to come in the years ahead. At the very least, we can expect to see workforces becoming more productive and collaborative. But what gets really exciting is to see new usage scenarios that perhaps completely transform and disrupt an industry, breaking free of legacy paper forms or computer systems. Many of these are likely to be homegrown here in Asia rather than being led by Western countries and I look forward to seeing how businesses creatively embrace this and innovate their own business processes.