Tablets for enterprise use make sense, but IT needs to get a handle on selecting and managing these devices first.
Tablets combine the mobility of smartphones with a larger screen size, and they work well in many organizations. Users that are constantly on the move, such as field workers and salespeople, can get the most out of tablets for enterprise use because of their portability and easy access to basic work functions.
It's important to understand how exactly employees will use tablets to choose the best device for the business and then manage those devices effectively.
Consider these tablets for enterprise use
Tablets for enterprise use can connect with other devices to project a presentation, join a web conference, or share content through cloud storage and collaboration apps, such as Slack. Organizations should also consider the long-term costs of tablets, including maintenance and support calls.
A Windows device typically requires more costly maintenance over its lifetime than an Apple tablet. An organization that already uses Apple devices and software, however, could experience issues integrating Windows tablets into its legacy infrastructure. The cost of tablets, such as Apple's iPad Pro or Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, depends on which features employees need.
An iPad Pro is as powerful as many basic laptops and can handle most business use cases, such as using office software and email. The iPad Pro offers a good user experience and runs Apple's iOS, which is less susceptible to viruses than other OSes. However, it does not have the capabilities of a full desktop system or the ability to access local files.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 boasts the full experience of a Windows 10 desktop, but with a touch screen and stylus. The tablets integrate with Active Directory (AD) and Exchange, so admins do not need extra tools to manage the tablets.
The Surface Pro 4 software, however, requires IT to provide more hands-on management to keep the tablet secure and running. Microsoft is also releasing its Surface Go in August 2018, which is fully Windows-compatible, but will cost significantly less than the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro.
At your service to enroll devices
Automation services, such as Apple's Device Enrollment Program (DEP) or Android Zero-Touch Enrollment, can speed up the enrollment process for tablets for enterprise use and eliminate tedious work for an IT admin. With these services, users can follow a few instructions to configure and activate their own tablets.
DEP enables admins to enroll devices without accessing them. Any mobile device management (MDM) product that supports DEP requires IT to input serial or order numbers for the new devices and follow a few simple steps. Android Zero-Touch Enrollment takes a different approach and preconfigures purchased devices to include management settings.
Samsung Knox Mobile Enrollment has the capability to simultaneously enroll thousands of devices via any supported MDM system. Microsoft's Azure AD and Windows Autopilot automatically preconfigure new Windows 10 devices.
How to manage tablets for enterprise use
Next, IT must plan maintenance for the devices. MDM products manage the policies and features of data and apps, such as encryption, PIN enforcement and remote wipe. IT should be aware of which MDM product supports its organization's fleet of tablets.
Apple released Apple Business Manager at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, which aims to replace DEP and the Volume Purchase Program. In iOS 12, which is expected to be released in September, there will be features to increase device security, including Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari, which aims to reduce the user data that marketers and third-party advertisers can access. The new iOS will also improve web connection and password security.
Organizations that use Android tablets can use management APIs in combination with an enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform such as Google Mobile Management or MobileIron to provision, secure and manage devices. IT can also manage tablets for enterprise use with different device deployment scenarios, such as work profiles in BYOD programs, and application management tools, including the Google Play EMM API or the Android Management API specific to app management.
Windows shops can take advantage of its built-in MDM client that enrolls and manages devices using a specialized protocol. It takes three steps to enroll a device, but IT can automate the process by creating a runtime provisioning package.