After years of expectation and premature announcements, the tablet revolution is finally here. And it’s maturing: the groundbreaking fervor is now sweeping business.

 

That’s right, business. It turns out that these gadgets are more than just shiny toys for wasting time. Large and small organizations in nearly every industry have hopped on the tablet bandwagon. Now you can see these devices in hospitals, archaeological sites, police patrol cars, and even theaters of war.

 

In July, Infoweek ran an interesting story about how a prestigious New York City law firm deployed hundreds of iPads to its team of lawyers. The firm, Proskauer Rose LLP, presents a good case study on the benefits and difficulties associated with handheld computing in a business environment.

 

“Rolling out the iPad actually turned out to be quite a significant investment in time, much more than I would have thought,” said Steven Kayman, chair of Proskauer’s technology committee, in an interview with Infoworld. “There’s just a hundred decisions that have to be made along the way.”

 

Breaking trail is always exciting but rarely easy. Proskauer’s technology leaders had to address thorny concerns that were completely new, such as how (and how much) to standardize the app menu on each device; how much control to give to users; and how to prepare for the impact on their network, particularly its security position. (Whenever you add hundreds of new endpoints to a network, you add hundreds of potential entry points for hackers and malicious code.)

 

But the firm has seen big benefits, and it doesn’t appear to be looking back. Infoworld:

 

“Today, more than 500 Proskauer lawyers use iPads to create superslick PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets filled with sky-high figures, and verbose Word documents. Lawyers pass this electronic paperwork back and forth among clients. They even present information on their iPads to judges.”

 

The iPad is the clear leader in the tablet realm, but tech watchers expect Android devices and others to gradually gain market share, as they have done in the mobile phone space. New entrants are expected to drive prices down, further encouraging business to join the action. A March 2011 study from AMI-Partners predicts that tablet adoption will grow 1000 percent by 2015, with 1 in 3 SMBs eventually using them on a daily basis.

 

I guess tablets are easy pills to swallow…