One in three Irish firms to give workers iPads in the year ahead

28 Sep 2011

Martin McKenna, partner, BearingPoint Ireland

More than one in five Irish companies are now using tablet devices, such as Apple’s iPad. This is set to increase to more than one in three (34pc) over the next 12 months, a new survey by BearingPoint suggests.

“The scale of growth in the Irish business sector surprised us,” Martin McKenna, partner, BearingPoint Ireland.

“Tablets have become much more than a consumer device and are supplementing corporate laptop market share,” McKenna said. “However, this has major implications for corporate security as encryption on tablets is not as readily available as on laptops.”

This morning, it emerged that retailer ADM Londis is to equip store owners across Ireland with iPads to interact with EPOS systems, the supply chain and customised real-time data about a store’s stock, relevant promotions and suggestions to improve margin mix, while on the shop floor or remotely.

McKenna pointed out that while laptops used for business come with personal firewalls, anti-malware programmes and encryption, most tablets today do not. The BearingPoint study finds that 56pc of business smartphone users other than BlackBerry do have formal security guidelines or encryption on their employees’ mobiles. A significant number (44pc) do not or don’t know.

Some 55pc of companies have no objection to employees using a personal tablet or smartphone to access company data. Of those who do object, 70pc cite security as the major worry, followed by cost (40pc).

“The lack of security applications on tablets is more serious than on smartphones because there is much greater capacity to work with confidential data and documents,” said Alistair Herriott, senior manager Telecoms & Media, BearingPoint.

Business owners can’t hold back an avalanche

“Tablets are also much more exposed than laptops, not only because of their lack of encryption, but because of their portability. Their appeal as a personal device means that users bring them literally everywhere, increasing the risk of theft or loss,” Herriott said.

“While the majority do not object to staff using personal devices for business purposes, this may be a recognition of the inevitable.”

He pointed to the finding that 42pc agreed that staff would prefer to use their personal smartphone brand for business purposes.

“We can’t hold back an avalanche. Mobility has huge productivity benefits but tablets, in particular, are making company security a lot more complex. Organisations across the private and public sector need to be more tuned in to the risks,” Herriott said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years