By all accounts, tablet computers are becoming a ubiquitous computing device now being seen around insurance enterprises. Overall, tablet sales keep growing, while standard PC and laptop sales remain stagnant or are shrinking.

As an enterprise IT manager, this means new classes of mobile devices to support. Devices that adequately support identity management and security as they reach back into the organization’s data assets—policyholder information, claims history, credit data and agency affiliations.

The good news in all this is that we are reaching a point where the front-end device doesn’t matter as much anymore. Standardization has become the norm across the tablet world—they are no longer exotic devices used mainly for watching videos and playing games. They are the windows (lower case “w”) to the enterprise, similar to what PCs became a decade ago.

In a recent discussion on the topic, Interarbor Solutions analyst Dana Gardner observes that the combination of cloud and mobile support means any and all major tablet platforms can easily and uniformly be supported.

For example, Dana points out, “The nature of the device is not the major factor, not a point of lock-in, or even a decision guide. Because of the single-sign-on APIs from cloud and social media providers, you can now go from tablet to tablet, find your cloud of choice — be it Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, or Amazon. You know how you can just rent bicycles in many cities now and just ride it and drop it off? Same for everyone. This is the future of tablet devices too. Quite soon, actually. Rent it, log in, use it, move on.”

The real work and thinking needs to be devoted to the back-end, and the cloud is making this easier as well. “My dearly held bias is that the back-end strategy and procurement decisions count more than at any time in the last 12 years,” Gardner says.

This, however, is not a slam-dunk process by any means. Gardner reminds us that things are still messy in the enterprise, and runs down a list of priorities that IT executives need to address in order to make all of these tablets fully functioning citizens of the enterprise: mobile device management, containerization, receiver technology flavors, deciding whether to deploy native apps or web-centric apps and recasting virtual desktop infrastructure to incorporate mobile computing are just a few issues still on the table.

We're close to the point in which “tablet computing” may even not be called that anymore. It may be simply “computing,” without further thought to whether the device is a traditional-style PC or a tablet computer with a similar form factor—keyboard attached to a screen. The line between PCs and tablets is blurring rapidly.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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