Why Tablets And Smartphones Can Actually Be Bad For Business Continuity

Why Tablets And Smartphones Can Actually Be Bad For Business Continuity

Can’t get to the office because of bad weather or a natural disaster? You might think that you’ll be able to get a lot done from home using just your smartphone and tablet, but Gartner analyst John Girard suggests that is often a case of wishful thinking.

Picture by Martin Howard

In a presentation yesterday on telework strategies during a disaster at Gartner’s Security & Risk Management Summit, Girard said that while it was often possible to do limited work via those devices, most workers could not perform their roles for extended periods without access to a full-scale computer:

Teleworking could be very useful in a disaster scenario, he suggested, but only with careful forward planning. If you leave your laptop in the office, then your ability to work over an extended period will be challenged:

In a lot of cases, it gets worse when people are relying on laptops and tablets. Even if you are earnest about doing your job off a smartphone or a tablet, after a couple of days it’s not enough.

Working for a day is fine, Girard argued, but within three days limitations will be clear, and in the event of an extended outage caused by a flood or other disaster, additional resources will be needed. “You can very easily overstress a telework process by throwing business continuity problems onto it if it hasn’t been thought out in advance,” he said.

I’m inclined to agree. While I managed to do my job on the road for a whole week armed with just a smartphone in the No Luggage challenge, that did also involve a lot of advance planning. I didn’t just hit the road and assume that everything would work seamlessly from day one.

Had your own experience working remotely because of unexpected circumstances? What lessons did you learn? Tell us in the comments.


  • I think the argument isn’t that smartphones and tablets are bad, it’s that they have limited value. For a lot of business IT people – trying to convince the business that the newest shiny toy from apple doesn’t have enough value to justify the infrastructure changes required to support it is an ongoing and incredibly frustrating challenge.

    Fundamentally, of course I want to use my iPad in the office too. But the reality of the situation is that for most established businesses with large scale and existing infrastructure, supporting BYOD or supporting IOS devices when provided by the business, isn’t a sensible decision. The argument that ‘I’ll be able to work from home with just my IOS devices’ is often (so very, very often) raised as a reason to make substantial expenditure on supporting those devices. And it’s just a flawed argument from start to finish.

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