Opinion: CIOs prescribe tablets as Wi-Fi goes down the Tube

By Sooraj Shah
21 Feb 2012 View Comments
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Computing spoke with three CIOs recently, all of whom have enabled the staff use of tablets in the workplace.

John Lewis CIO Paul Coby said the main motivation for enabling the use of staff-owned tablet devices was to save costs.

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Wellcome Trust CIO Mark Bramwell introduced 130 company-owned iPads to ease logistical issues and reduce paper use.

Transport for London (TfL) CIO Steve Townsend said that allowing staff to access information using their own devices helps the organisation to better manage London’s transport network.

Meanwhile, Barclays’ retail COO, Shaygan Kheradpir, has announced plans to roll out tablets to all customer-facing staff, following a successful trial among senior management.

These IT leaders represent four very different industries and each has a different reason for championing the use of tablets in the workplace, which is a testament to how versatile these devices can be.

That said, many IT chiefs are still reluctant to embrace tablets and the consumerisation trend in general because of justifiable concerns about losing control and undermining security.

However, if the experience of the aforementioned IT leaders is any guide, it may be time for businesses to tap into the potential benefits of using tablets. HP CTO of technology services Gurprit Singh believes firms must find ways to use Generation Y’s familiarity with the latest consumer devices to their advantage.

Meanwhile, Townsend said Wi-Fi is finally coming to London Underground. The city that introduced the underground railway to the world is playing catch-up with several other cities, including Berlin, Tokyo and Singapore, which already boast Wi-Fi-enabled underground networks.

It is, quite frankly, a bit embarrassing that it has taken this long for arguably the world’s most famous urban transport system to start deploying wireless technology.

The benefits of Wi-Fi have been available to the capital’s diners, coffee drinkers and hotel guests for over a decade, so what has taken TfL so long?

A lot of the delay has to do with the technology itself, with connectivity and security issues needing to be ironed out. But perhaps what was really needed to spur some action was an event that would turn the world’s gaze towards our capital. Can’t think what that might be.


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