Tablet Wars: Online/Mobile Banking Will Never be The Same
- Senior executives are on the go. The use of a tablet will be dictated by the role of the business user. The individuals who spend their time initiating payments aren't targets. The users that approve the payments and who travel frequently are prime targets.
- Senior executives have fancy toys. Yes, there are productivity benefits to tablets. Let's be honest though, gadget guys/gals like the latest toys. Every flight I take is loaded with business users on iPads. Every recent conference I have attended has users banging away on their iPads. Since I'm an analyst I should give you real stats. Apple's COO reported in the fall of 2010 that two-thirds of the 100 largest companies in the world on the Fortune 100 list have begun deploying iPads for enterprise use.
- Online banking portal evolution is a natural fit with the tablet experience. There is a lot of complex and personalized data that needs to be displayed to the corporate user. The dashboard experience found online lends very well to the tablet (in a web browser, or ideally as a native app). As banks build out their portals they have to prioritize mobile and tablet experiences.
What brand of tablet is going to steal the heart of business users? What should banks be developing for? Should they build native apps or rely on the browser? This is where the debate starts. iPad was first to market and dominates the market. The Blackberry Playbook is brand new, and Android based devices just starting to be readily available (e.g. Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia, Asus EEE Pad Transformer). My personal opinion is the iPad is out there now and isn't about to go anywhere anytime soon. My bank clients tell me that most of their corporate users are heavily reliant on Blackberrys (no surprise there). With that said, it wouldn't surprise me to see some uptake of the Playbook, particularly as it matures. It's emphasis on data security is huge. Native cash management applications or small business banking apps for either of these operating systems would be ideal. RIM knows however that the iPad is going to be a really tough device to take on, regardless of how secure the Blackberry Playbook is. Yesterday RIM announced the acquisition of Ubitexx. This will allow firms with Blackberry Enterprise Servers (BES) to support other devices like the iPad or iPhone. It's a huge and risky move for RIM, but it's win-win. RIM has accepted the fact that iOS devices are selling like hotcakes to business users; corporations get to stick to the popular and secure BES.
I will attack the subject of tablets in an upcoming report on business/corporate mobile banking. I will also be speaking on the subject at the AFP Conference this fall in Boston. In the meantime, please pitch in your thoughts and opinions.