SMBs split on business value of tablets

Tablet in hand
CIOs are split on the usefulness of tablets

Chief information officers (CIOs) in midsized businesses are not as enthusiastic about tablet computers as the flag wavers for the 'bring your own device' movement suggest, according to the results of survey by Virgin Media Business.

When asked which two items of office hardware have the least impact on running their business, tablets came second only to fax machines.

Of the 500 CIOs questioned, 43% said that tablets would hardly be missed (against 63% for fax machines).

The percentage was higher for smaller firms, with figures of 53% for those with 25-100 employees and 50% for 101-250. For those with 251-500 employees it was 39% and for 501-1,000 it was 34%.

The totals were considerably lower for landline telephones (21%), mobile phones (20%), smartphones (17%), PCs (15%), laptops (14%) and printers (7%).

Tablets also proved less popular than laptops when respondents were asked what they would offer employees for hot-desking. Only 36% expressed a preference for tablets against 57% for laptops and 7% who were neutral.

Virgin Media Business described the results as indicating a 'marmite effect' – CIOs either love or hate tablets.

The company's Director of Product and Marketing, Duncan Higgins, said: "We're at a crossroads about which office hardware to invest in next.

"Clearly there's a shift away from PCs, but it's not clear yet if tablets are the heir apparent. Half of the market seems to be in favour of them, and the other half wouldn't even notice if they weren't around anymore."

He insisted, however, that companies still want a more flexible workforce and that this points towards a greater take-up of mobile technology.