Tablets are increasingly becoming a standalone, rather than companion, device in the workplace, according to IDC.
Some 40 per cent of tablet users in the workplace now rely on them as their only work device, and that figure is growing, IDC's study of 2,000 firms in the UK, France and Germany concluded.
The rise of the 'standalone tablet' is particularly pronounced among workers who perform the majority of their activities on the road, in the field, or facing customers, the research found.
Operation agents and production workers equipped with tablets, for instance, were found to use them as their only work device in 55 and 64 per cent of cases.
In contrast, user groups usually associated with activities involving document creation or editing, such as executives, marketing, sales, engineers, or white-collar employees, are more likely to use their tablets in addition to a desktop or portable PC, the analyst found.
"The majority of tablet users in enterprises currently have at least another device to perform their business activities," said Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
"However, a large share of tablets is already used by employees as their only work tool, either replacing traditional client devices or for functions previously not supported by any computing device. As digitalisation transforms business processes and tablets are optimised for business functions from both a hardware and application standpoint, we can only expect an increase in the share of standalone tablets, as confirmed by the purchase intentions of the study respondents."
Standalone tablets are not always a straight PC replacement, with slates now often being used to carry out functions not previously performed by any other device, IDC said. Waiters, for instance, use them instead of pen and paper, doctors are using them to replace paper-based files and pilots as a substitute for bulky manuals, it pointed out.
"These are only a few examples, and this is where the growth opportunity lies," Fiorentini said. "IDC calculated that in 2014 this incremental market accounted for almost six per cent of tablets used as standalone in the UK, France, and Germany. We expect this percentage to increase quickly in these three countries and exceed 20 per cent over the next 24 months."
IDC's latest research follows its recent prediction that a quarter of business devices would be tablets by 2019.
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