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Businesses embrace iPads, but don't know why

iPads lead the spread of tablets within businesses, but for many the strategy is murky. Also: most expect tablets won't replace laptops.

Most businesses plan on using at least some tablets by 2012.
Most businesses plan on using at least some tablets by 2012. Dimensional Research

iPads are catching on among business users, a study released today has found, but most of them don't have a clear strategy for the tablets.

Dimensional Research, in a survey of 448 businesses, found that 22 percent have deployed tablets, 22 percent plan to do so this year, and 24 percent plan to next year.

And although Apple isn't known for its corporate focus or market penetration, it's the leader when it comes to tablets: 83 percent said they would be using iPads. That compares to 17 percent for RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, 14 percent for HP's Slate, 13 percent for Motorola's Xoom, and 11 percent for Dell's Streak.

Why use tablets? That's harder to pin down.

"Most participants, 51 percent, indicated that they did not have a clearly articulated strategy," Dimensional said.

There are some reasons, though, including productivity applications, often cloud-based. Topping desired iPad applications were tools for salespeople, picked by 47 percent of the respondents. Other categories included providing customer services, submitting expense reports, dealing with financial information, and making purchases.

Most tablets in businesses were purchased by employees.
Most tablets in businesses were purchased by employees. Dimensional Research

Some expectations management is probably in order, though. Among the IT personnel surveyed, 42 percent agreed that "The need for additional development is not understood by our business stakeholders. Most just run any app on a tablet." That finding led Dimensional to conclude there's a disconnect between IT and the business groups.

The survey also found that 82 percent of respondents think tablets will complement, not replace, laptops.