At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2011, Gartner vice president David Willis listed the top 10 commercial business application categories for tablet devices.

In his talk, Willis said that business applications in commercial app stores were originally focused on inexpensive personal productivity tools. He added, "Now, major software vendors are taking the tablet seriously and embracing the market, following where users want to take the platform."

Willis says that the app's success depends on how the vendor re-factors it in a meaningful way instead of just duplicating the traditional desktop or browser experience.

Gartner predicts that combined sales of tablets and smartphones will be 44% bigger than the PC market in 2011, and by the end of 2014, the installed base of devices will exceed the total installed base of all PC-based systems.

Top Ten

Gartner's list of top 10 commercial business application categories is:

  • Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations and ordering systems
  • Business intelligence: Analytical and performance applications with management dashboards
  • Containerized email to separate corporate messaging environments from personal email
  • Collaboration applications for meetings
  • File utilities for sharing and document distribution
  • General corporate/government enterprise applications for CRM, ERP, SCM and messaging
  • Medical support systems for doctors, nurses and physical therapists
  • Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments
  • Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
  • Board books for secure document and report distribution

Looking Ahead at Apps

In his talk, Willis said that more than 900 million tablets will be in the hands of users by 2016, and users will increasingly integrate their tablets into their workplaces. He explained:

Leaders are finding legitimate business use and redefining processes for 'ready at hand' moments where other computer types are not as well adapted. CEOs often prefer tablets for distributing material for board of directors meetings. Salespeople are using them in client-facing situations; sales configuration tools help close more business and reduce error rates; sales and marketing leaders are using them as dashboards to their business; and marketers are designing campaigns around them. Doctors and nurses are carrying them; they are even being used on the manufacturing floor. Anywhere you once saw people carrying a clipboard or lugging printed reference material, you’ll find an application for a tablet."

Gartner recommends that tablets be outfitted with a corporate suite of applications and utilities before being distributed to employees.