This week in the Enterprise we took a look at which trends are driving social business, as well as Apple's recently released numbers and rumors of an up and coming tablet from Amazon. 

Employees Are Bringing Devices to Work and Work Home

IDC released a study on the consumerization of information technology within the enterprise that indicates an increase in the use of personally owned devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets) to perform work on behalf of companies. As it turns out, this trend is also driving adoption of social media applications for business purposes.

The study included more than 3,000 information workers and business executives in nine countries. The data shows that there has been a 10 percent increase in the last 12 months of personal devices being used for work purposes:

 

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Study participants predicted that tablets, which didn’t even exist 15 months ago, will grow more important than any other consumer device for completing work by 2012. The same is true for social media. The same applications workers are using to share photos are now increasingly being used to engage customer communications, market products and perform market research. Hello, social business!

Although enterprises mostly agree that allowing employees to use their own devices is a good thing because it allows them to be more productive and reduces internal costs, the consumerization move is not without challenges. Consumerization increases IT complexity, for example. Companies have more devices and more applications to understand and manage. 

Are you currently using your personal cell phone or tablet for work? Does your company have an official policy around this or do you just do it? We’d love to hear from you.

Apple's New Highs, Lion, New iPhone in September

As widely predicted, Apple sold over 20 million iPhones and nine-and-a-quarter million iPads in its most recent quarter, according to recent figures. The news sent Apple's stock price over the US$ 400 barrier. With over 15 billion downloads and over 425,000 apps in the store (100,000 for iPad), digital downloads are also raking in massive numbers. The most impressive number, however, is Apple's US$ 76 billion in cash. Is a large acquisition in store or some unheard of new product?

In other Apple news, the company made OS X Lion available to download from the App Store this week, and a new version of iTunes has just been released, bringing the app up to version 10.4. The only information on new iPhones and iPads was a 'product refresh' in the September quarter which makes the August launch rumors unlikely. All the rumors have been done to death, so we won't drag them up again.

Microsoft Reportedly Expanding Office 365 to Include Visio & Project

Microsoft is making inroads into the SME market for cloud-based productivity and document management services with the recently launched Office 365. The company is rumored to be including more Microsoft products and services in the cloud-based Office suite, in order to expand functionality on an add-on basis. 

While the service already includes add-ons like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online for collaboration, the company is rumored to be working on adding diagramming and project planning with online versions of Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project, respectively. According to All About Microsoft's Mary-Jo Foley, this information was mentioned in an interview with a Microsoft executive at the recently-concluded Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

According to All About Microsoft's Mary-Jo Foley, this information was mentioned in an interview with a Microsoft executive at the recently-concluded Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Microsoft Business Solutions Corporate Vice President Michael Park made a passing reference to the coming Project and Visio Office 365 add-ons during an interview I had with him at the partner conference. The idea in adding services like CRM Online, Project and Visio is to make it as easy for small/mid-size users to subscribe to them with a single click when "ordering" Office 365 as it currently is for enterprise volume licensees to do so.

While Microsoft later on clarified that the statement may have been taken out of context, Foley maintains that other Microsoft partners interviewed at the conference were aware of Microsoft's plan to include Project and Visio in Office 365 sometime in the near future.

Amazon Working on New Tablets; Will An Amazon Slate be the iPad Killer Everyone's Waiting For?

Tablets have come and gone, and while some are enjoying immense popularity, the iPad is still the leading device in the tablet market. But word on the street is that Amazon wants to compete against Apple and everyone else by building its own Android Tablet, which is rumored to launch sometime this Fall.

Amazon has not confirmed whether it's building a tablet computer or not, but the rumor mill is abuzz with word that the retail giant has something in the works. These are coming from analysts, such as IDC, as well as sources from within the supply chain in China.