Its large SMB base, coupled with the emerging importance of mobile, tablets and cloud computing could herald big developments for IT in the Middle East. Smartphone penetration is already at 47% and is predicted to rise to 70% by December 2016. Industry experts have also hailed 2012 to be the year of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device), and many businesses are encouraging employees to embrace this trend. These changes offer clear opportunities for organisations, but also highlight potential future difficulties.
Tablets in the Middle East
IT and business professionals in the Middle East are just below the global average of 71% in tablet adoption with 69% of those we surveyed currently owning one of these devices. Of those in possession of a tablet, more have an iPad than elsewhere else. Higher numbers also have a different tablet operating system than their mobile phone (45%), which suggests lower brand allegiance and makes the region ripe for change.
Research results support this. 45% of professionals in the Middle East who intend to buy a tablet plan to invest in an Android device. This is second only to professionals in South America (of whom 50% say they favour Android). 57% of Middle Eastern professionals we surveyed also believe Android tablets will be the market leading devices in the next 12 months and only 39% think it will be Apple.
These results could prove significant. Firstly, findings demonstrate a real trend towards work tablet usage amongst professionals. Although respondents from the Middle East were very slightly less likely to use their tablet for daily work purposes (59%) than the global average of 61%, this deficit is negligible. The truth is rapid tablet adoption in conjunction with BYOD, increasing security concerns and the move towards the cloud could prove serious.
It is hard to know how this situation will pan out, but the threat towards the Android system does seem exceptionally high. A recent report by Juniper Networks showed a 472% increase in Android malware samples since July 2011. In addition to this Business Strategist Dion Hinchcliffe believes the unique confluence between cloud computing and tablet devices could create serious security threats. “Right now, enterprises can indeed gain control over mobile devices, but not the cloud services offered by tablet providers.” He went on to add “From my conversations with CIOs recently, Apple’s iCloud is one of the worst offenders, making it very difficult to wipe devices when employees leave the company.”
The importance of apps
Like most emerging regions, the Middle East placed a greater emphasis on price than other factors in device selection. More interestingly, it also placed greater weight on the availability of certain apps than anywhere else in the world, with 70% stating this to be ‘very important’. The local emphasis on the importance of apps in tablet usage was also reflected respondents’ beliefs in why they thought tablets were popular generally. Across the globe everybody agreed that mobility, speed and applications were the top three factors, but the Middle East gave applications a higher score than anywhere else, with 64% highlighting them as a main attraction compared to a global average of 54%.
In an increasingly connected world where IT professionals are bringing their own devices to workplaces and using them for work purposes, issues surrounding apps and security are only going to gain momentum. Over the coming months it will only become vital that organisations have the policies in place to ensure that they are prepared for the real future of tablet growth.
Kathryn Cave is Editor of IDG Connect.
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