What’s The Best Device For Your Workplace: Laptop, Tablet, Or Mobile Phone?

There are many choices, which device should a CIO choose?
There are many choices, which device should a CIO choose?
Image Credit: thrivingmom

You know, it really was not all that long ago that when we got ready for work we just grabbed our lunch and headed out the door. We knew that when we got to work our desktop computer would be sitting there ready for us to start to use it. Over time things have changed. First came laptops. Now we had to grab our laptop before we headed out the door. Next came mobile phones and all of their wonderful features. We needed to make sure that ours was fully charged so that we’ll be able to make it through the day. Finally, tablets have arrived and none of us are really sure what to do with these – do we still need laptops?

The Numbers Don’t Lie

As the person with the CIO job, the world that you occupy when it comes to trying to decide how best to equip the company can be confusing. There are three options and each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, I believe that everyone pretty much agrees that the three options are by no means the same. We all know that there is only so much that you can do with either a tablet or a phone. They just don’t have the horsepower or the real estate to accomplish many of the bigger tasks that we need to do. Touchscreens are nice, but sometimes you just want a keyboard and a mouse. This is why real work still happens using either a PC or a Mac.

The numbers seem to bear this thinking out. When you take a look at how many desktop and laptop computers companies have purchased over the past decade you’ll discover that the number just keeps on growing. Total sales of computers that run either Windows, OS X, or Chrome were at about 32 million in 2010. This number has grown to be 37 million in 2015.

There are a number of reasons why PC and laptop sales continue to grow. In a number of different industries they have been using Windows boxes for decades and they really don’t see any need to change. Apple Mac computers are growing in quantity; however, they still only represent a small percentage of the total number of computers being used in the workplace. The person with the CIO job needs to understand that one of the key reasons why so many different companies may be selecting Macs is as much about style as it is about functionality.

The Times Are A Changing

As challenging as all of this device overload may be, it gets even more complicated. The world as we know it continues to change. As CIOs we have the responsibility to be aware that changes are happening and we need to understand that they may have an impact on what decision we make in terms of how we equip the people who work at our firm. What is starting to happen is that more and more workers are starting to bring their iPhones and iPads into the workplace. All of a sudden what used to be strange or unusual is starting to become more commonplace.

Make no mistake here, Windows is still the standard for most companies. However, more and more firms are starting to port their Windows-only software over to the Mac. These companies include Microsoft and Autodesk. Back in 2010, only about 515,000 Macs were sold to firms. This number has grown to 1.2 million in 2015. There are some industries that have selected to use the Mac. A number of the graphics arts firms and firms associated with fashion almost exclusively use Mac computers for the majority of their work.

Tablets are also starting to become a player in the modern workplace. Back in 2010 only about 131,000 were sold to companies. However, in 2015 over 6 million were sold to companies. One of the reasons for this amazing increase in sales is due to the fact that software vendors are starting to port their software products over to run on tablets. One key example of this is Microsoft who has created an iPad version of its Office productivity suite. One other feature that has made tablets more popular is the increasing use of cloud storage. When documents and forms are stored “in the cloud”, they can then easily be accessed from any device including a tablet.

What All Of This Means For You

The rest of the company looks to the CIO to be the person who knows what is going on when it comes to the importance of information technology. One side effect of this belief is that we are the ones who are being asked to decide what everyone in the company should be carrying: a laptop, a tablet, or a cell phone in order to get our work done. It turns out that coming up with an answer to this question may not be all that easy to do.

Now that we’ve all had a chance to try out each of the three devices that we could be using, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone, I’m pretty sure that we’ve all reached the same decision. Tablets and mobile phones just don’t have enough computing strength to do the kind of work that we need to get done. When it’s time to do real work, we always seem to go back to the laptop. Mac sales are growing also, but not as much as Windows sales. Although Windows rules the world now, more and more Apple products are coming into the workplace. More software is also being ported to the Mac. Tablets are growing in sales also. Vendors are also porting their software to run on tablets.

Nobody ever said that this selecting what type of equipment the company should be using was going to be an easy thing to do. However, they also never told us that it was going to be this hard to do. CIOs need to take a very careful look at the type of work that their company’s workers do and determine what device is going to best suit their needs. Don’t worry too much about what decision you make because you’re going to have to do this all over again in a couple of years!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that having a laptop or a tablet is an either or situation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just in case you missed it, the world around us is changing. Although CIOs like to surround themselves with things like servers, software, clouds, and secure networks, we need to keep in mind that our company employs us for a reason. They understand the importance of information technology and they want us to help them to harness it so that they can do what they do better. For a lot of firms this means that they want to make things quicker, better, faster. Manufacturing may seem like it’s old school, but it’s often the reason that our company exists in the first place.