My last blog focused on mobile productivity and the role of tablets in this new economy. While user experience is paramount to achieve said productivity benefits, the deployment experience for the IT manager is equally important. By "deployment experience" I am referring to the entire process from initial rollout, employee training, ongoing management of the technology, security strategy and total cost of ownership. Not surprisingly, tablet selection is the biggest factor impacting this deployment experience.
Business of all sizes have developed PC deployment expertise over decades of technology transitions. And not only the end users but also countless system integrators, managed service providers (MSPs), and consultants. The tools used by all these entities are also robust, with management console software and services from companies like Microsoft, LabTech, Kaseya, Spiceworks and many more. So then the question is -- can this rich ecosystem be leveraged for tablet deployment? Thankfully the answer is YES!
The unifying element of course is the Windows operating system, specifically Windows 8.1 which you might think of as a bridge between legacy computing and new experiences. Therefore, you may also think of a Windows 8-inch tablet as just a PC in a small form factor, especially from an IT standpoint. It is with this premise that Intel launched a seeding and enabling program asking MSPs and end users to validate this value proposition. So far the results have been phenomenal.
An overwhelming majority of service providers surveyed see a business opportunity for themselves and a path for mobilizing end customer workflows with secure and managed platforms. Staples of PC deployment such as disk encryption via BitLocker or network configuration via domain join can be equally executed on Windows 8.1 Pro tablets, notebooks or desktops. Even for tablets using the Windows 8.1 Standard or consumer version of the OS, most PC management features in a console can be enacted, be it remote assistance, policy enforcement, or system reconfiguration.
Brandon Zumwalt, President of Internet Contrasts, explained it this way: “Intel-based Windows tablets give us an opportunity to shepherd clients down the right path – namely a tablet that is a well-managed, productivity-enhancing tool”. Similarly Chris Cummings, President of TTJ Netcom (another MSP) confirmed that “managing Intel-based Windows tablets is just like managing any desktop PC, so all our familiar tools are right there. We can keep the tablet clean, install anti-virus, scrub out the temp files on a regular basis – all the normal functions that keep management costs down. We have the same remote session capabilities, and even similar response times on the tablet that we have on the PC”. In another success story, Brian Kingsley from Marathon Consulting noted that the Intel-Microsoft “solution addresses the pain points of tablet adoption and makes deployment easy”.
We are still early in this transition but my observation is that every business that has ever deployed a PC can successfully deploy Windows tablets as well.