The education sector is driving sales of tablet devices, but the enterprise market in the UAE and Saudi Arabia is still small, according to a universal study conducted by Dell.
While nine out of 10 survey participants said that tablets are a standard part of their company’s IT offering or allow their employees to use their personal tablets for work, just 53 per cent said it is a key business tool for mobile workers, compared with 81 per cent of respondents in the UK and 84 per cent in South Africa.
The tablet market across the Middle East, Africa and Turkey was worth US$3.94 million in the second quarter of this year according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The enterprise sector made up just 13 per cent of that.
“The enterprise tablet market is very, very small,” said Fouad Charakla, research manager at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “Even then much of the growth was driven not by businesses but by the education sector.”
Many government-driven initiatives are migrating to tablets from PCs, most of them in the education sector. The Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Program has been a key driver behind tablets sales in enterprise.
“We understand the importance of technology in classrooms to hone additional complex skills and competencies needed to succeed in a knowledge-based economy that is in line with the wider UAE 2021 vision,” said Mohammed Gheyath, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Program.
Only 33 per cent of participants in the UAE and Saudi Arabia said that employees are more productive on the move when using tablets while travelling, compared with 97 per cent of participants in South Africa and 74 per cent in the UK.
“In the education sector, tablets are growing rapidly versus laptops. It gives students the freedom to connect later and go home,” said Emad Sallam, regional client marketing manager at Dell Middle East. “Productivity usage is still pretty low but it is getting better now with more devices available.”
One of the reasons why UAE and Saudi participants feel productivity does not improve is because of high roaming costs and a lack in data availability.
Penetration of cloud computing is still low across the region as strict laws and regulation regarding the transfer of data limits global access.
Moreover, the low processing power of many tablets is not suited for high-end enterprise work.
“In tablets you don’t see many high-specification devices, but if there are, they are much costlier compared to a laptop,” said Mr Charakla.
Nonetheless there is still growth projected for tablet sales in enterprise. In the second quarter of this year the segment grew 190 per cent in the UAE compared to a year earlier.
“We are forecasting growth in the enterprise sector with education being the main one,” said Mr Charakla. “There will also be some growth in hospitality including hotels and growth in health care and aviation.”
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter