Dec 19 2014

The Latest Tablets Add Flexibility to Campuses

Colleges select tablets that let students and faculty work the way they prefer with a keyboard or stylus.

Seton Hall University has been a mobile campus since 1998 when it began issuing Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks to all incoming freshmen. After trying several different tablets, the university decided that a conventional tablet was too small, so they deployed convertible Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga devices.

In a somewhat unusual move for a university, Seton Hall will outfit its 5,000 undergraduate students with the ThinkPad Yoga notebooks over the next few years, says Associate CIO Paul Fisher. Faculty will also receive the Windows 8.1 devices.

Fisher says students and faculty like the 12.5-inch screen and pen input option.

“Whether it’s at the bedside, the lab or in the field, the science students especially like the stylus and the ability to write notes,” he says. “Students also appreciate the flexibility of being able to use it as a tablet or with a keyboard.”

Chris Silva, a Gartner research director who focuses on mobility, says Windows compatibility is driving interest among organizations that are considering replacing desktops and notebooks with tablets. “Organizations are much more willing to take the plunge and go with these devices because of their support for Windows applications,” he says.


The estimated average increase for enterprise mobility spending in 2014

SOURCE: VDC Research, “The Global Market for Enterprise Tablets,” September 2014

Supportive Workflow

For doctors at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tablets bring the patient’s story to life.

Dr. Rasu Shrestha, chief innovation officer at UPMC, says the hospital plans to deploy 2,000 Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablets to run a custom-built patient information platform called Convergence. The Surface tablets appealed to the $12 billion healthcare system because many of the leading electronic medical records systems run over a Windows interface.

Built to work on any Windows-based computer, Convergence ties together legacy clinical information systems that run in Windows with intelligent visualization and mobility capabilities that enable better clinical workflow.

“Our clinicians can see patient data in a mobile, user-friendly format and then, with the flick of a finger, swipe into their clinical systems to actually do their work, such as placing orders or changing medications,” Shrestha explains. “Convergence on the tablets fits the existing workflow of clinicians, a key factor in ensuring adoption.”

Four Hidden Tablet Costs

Chris Silva, a Gartner research director who focuses on mobility, says that while tablets can make organizations more flexible and productive, there are additional costs that IT departments should be aware of before making the switch.

  1. Incorporate mobile device management software. Some organizations try to use the MDM features in existing client or wireless management tools, but organizations should plan to spend $4 to $10 monthly per device on a dedicated MDM tool. These products can wipe lost or stolen devices and push apps out to new devices.
  2. Budget for replacement devices. Tablets are more fragile than notebooks, and because of their inherently mobile nature, the devices are also prone to being left in taxis or airports. Set aside some funds to replace broken or lost devices.
  3. Deploy middleware for document integration. Whichever document management system is deployed, the organization will need middleware to tie the document management system to the tablet.
  4. Determine an app development strategy. Most organizations begin using tablets for email and file sharing, but the highest value comes from role-specific mobile applications. Budget for application development or decide if it makes more sense to outsource this function.