Universal docking stations make it possible to turn a tablet into a workstation. But what are the practical considerations?
The current workspace solutions available to enterprises and the latest advances in hardware technology mean that it is now possible to create workstations that don’t need desktop computers or even laptops. Instead more portable lightweight tech, such as tablets and smartphones are now being utilised. But can this really work in practice?
Our workforce is on the move, and seemingly there’s no stopping it. According to findings from International Data Corporation, the global mobile workforce is set to reach 1.3 billion in 2015 – up from 1 billion in 2010. And Deloitte states that we are moving toward an era of ‘mobile only’ in its recent Tech Trends report, as sales of smartphones and tablets are soon predicted to exceed those of PCs.
An infographic sponsored by Lenovo and Qualcomm suggests that in the US alone up to 45 million tablets will be purchased by businesses between 2010 and 2015. Whilst research carried out by Forrester predicts that 18% of tablet purchases worldwide will be made directly by businesses in 2017. This upward trend is also being seen in the ‘phablet’ market, with research predicting 180 million units being shipped by 2018.
Some IT decision makers are already on board with this latest trend, with many believing that tablets improve productivity and mobility. But what is holding other enterprises back and what are the main concerns?
There are several areas where IT decision makers have doubts that mobile technology can work for their business:
All businesses have data that needs to be kept secure and many are concerned that if employees are able to remove tech from secure offices, use it in public places and potentially lose it then that data could be at risk.
Desktop computers are designed to work with office applications, they have large hard drives for storing information, processing documents and carrying out the everyday tasks needed in all offices. If they are replaced by smartphones and tablets how will employees be able to produce work of the same standard from a mobile device.
A major concern is always going to be how easily these sorts of changes can be implemented into an office that already has IT systems in place, how you can keep mobile workers connected to office software and email, and how much these changes are going to cost.
Human beings don’t like change, and on the whole offices have functioned in a certain way for some time. Persuading an employee that they no longer need a keyboard, mouse and monitor, and that they can swap their desktop or laptop for a tablet may meet with some resistance, which companies will have to deal with.
Thanks to advances in technology and cloud-based computing many of these concerns can be addressed simply and efficiently.
The use of universal docking stations as a workspace solution can allow any tablet or smartphone to become a desktop computer. Once connected to the dock any other peripherals that are needed can be connected too, including keyboards, a mouse, printers and monitors; a good argument for persuading employees who may be reluctant to lose a ‘traditional’ IT set-up.
Once a user has done this, the tablet can be used in the same way as a laptop or desktop computer. There’s no need to transfer files from one computer to another, use one device at home and another in the office or to give employees a laptop or tablet plus a phone. Universal docking stations instead allow you to reduce the amount of technical hardware that IT departments need to supply, saving money but also improving productivity as they allow employees to ‘work where they are’.
Switching to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-computing software means that any device has the power to work across the full Office Windows suite of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as everything is stored on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud-based storage – and not directly to a hard drive. With 1TB of storage per user, documents can be stored and shared instantly.
Downloadable apps mean that everything from a tablet to a Windows smartphone can access all the normal Office applications, plus office email, Skype and SharePoint for document management. With this cloud-based access tablets and smartphones don’t need to have masses of processing power, instead they can use everything from a cloud, connect to a universal docking station and behave like a desktop computer instantly.
The more public the places we work, the more careful we have to be in terms of who can see what we’re doing. It’s not always possible to stop someone reading over your shoulder or taking a peek at your screen as you’re sat on a train. However privacy screens can be used to help protect important and sensitive data being seen by the wrong people. A privacy screen is a lenticular sticker that can be placed over a screen to obscure contents from onlookers. It’s an easy and affordable way to protect data in the public.
Compared to the price of a laptop or desktop computer mobile technology is relatively cheap, plus many employees now choose to bring their own tech to work, which means that often employers aren’t paying for the tablets and smartphones that people use. Universal docking stations also add to these savings, as workstation numbers can be reduced if docking stations are employed to support a ‘work where you are’ policy. Less desk space means a reduced outlay for employers.
There are of course still areas that need addressing, securing mobile tech from theft is not straightforward, and will always be a challenge. Robust cyber security will need to be thoroughly investigated and policies put in to place to protect data and who can access it, but on the whole there are to outweigh the cons of moving towards tablet and smartphone use in the workplace.
Reviewing how workstations perform within a business is good way to address productivity and how money can be saved and better spent. If you’d like to find out more about workspace solutions, universal docking stations or new technologies that will help your enterprise please get in touch, we’d be delighted to help you reach your full potential.