The launch of the iPad 3 a few weeks ago sparked the familiar buying frenzy and just 72 hours after the launch Apple announced that it sold three million tablets. The popularity of tablets has grown exponentially over the last few years as an increasing number of people use their devices to access the internet, update their social networking profiles and check their email. Such is the demand for anywhere, any time access to content, analyst house IDC now predicts that tablet sales will increase by 54 per cent this year.

As Andy McLoughlin, Huddle’s EVP Strategy, discussed on a panel at the CloudBeat conference in December, tablets are now moving from consumer realms, into the workplace. No longer just used by executives to take notes during meetings, tablets are now becoming a familiar site in offices worldwide. This shift even has it’s own acronym “BYOD” or bring your own device. A new survey of 1,604 business IT buyers ( by ChangeWave research has even revealed that more than one in five companies (22 per cent) will be buying tablets for their employees during Q2 2012 and the majority of those companies (84 per cent) are planning to purchase iPads.

A few stories that have hit the headlines recently reveal that this tablet trend is also infiltrating central government and public sector organisations across the UK. The Huffington Post reported back in January that the House of Lords authorities have purchased 20 iPads for use by peers and staff for a pilot project. According to the chairman of committees Lord Brabazon of Tara, staff are examining “how handheld devices can facilitate core parliamentary work.”

This week, it has been announced that NHS staff at the Liverpool Women’s NHS foundation trust are involved in a “bring your own device” (BYOD) trial that may result in the Trust providing employees with subsidies for tablets. Currently, Windows tablets are being used to access clinical systems and iPads are being used by non-clinical staff.

So why has the NHS decided that tablets may be their technology of choice for the future? One of the key reasons is cost.  Faced with shrinking budgets and the continued drive for cost savings, replacing approximately 5,000 PCs on a regular basis simply isn’t feasible. In his interview with the Guardian, Dr Zafar Chaudry, CIO at the Liverpool Women’s and Alder Hey foundation trusts, highlights the importance of putting a bring your own device strategy in place to ensure that security isn’t comprised:

“People actually already have the technology at home. If you can secure these in your new environment, and enable them to be used, you’re sort of eliminating all the duplication.”

While the thought of embarking on a bring your own device strategy my strike fear into the hearts of IT professionals across the globe, the consumerisation of IT and BYOD aren’t fads that are going to disappear. By ensuring that there is a plan in place to support workers’ personal devices, organisations in both the public and private sector will benefit from the increased productivity, flexibility and collaboration.

The flexibility that tablets offer workers, and the resulting efficiencies, are evident in Chaudry’s prediction for the future:

“We envision clinicians carrying data in the palm of their hands, at the bedside and around the hospital. You get what you need, where you want and when you want, and that should streamline services and improve patient care.”

Advances in hardware and software and improved connectivity mean people no longer have to be chained to their desk in the traditional office environment. As Huddle’s Director of Public Sector, I’m thrilled to see the UK government and NHS embracing new devices to improve public services and using technology in such innovative ways.

If you’re interested in securely collaborating on the move, why not give Huddle’s collaboration apps a go and be part of the ‘bring your own device’ future?

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