I recently had the opportunity to attend a vendor's analyst event. After a while, all of these events seem to fade into one another and they all look alike. They start with a video with very, very loud pulsing music which is designed to build attendee enthusiasm and excitement. Several executives come out and present how the company is winning every battle. After a while, I find myself looking around the room to see what trends I can pick up from watching analyst behavior. They, after all, are doing their best to keep up with technology and what customers are thinking and doing.
One trend that I have noticed coming on for a while is that laptop computers are fading as a required accessory and being replaced by tablets. I know, you're likely to say "Well, Duh!" It is striking, however, to see only one or two laptops in a sea of tablets and smartphones.
Detractors like to point out that tablets don't offer the screen size, the application set or a physical keyboard that would allow a serious user to create long documents or conduct detailed analysis. Yet, this is exactly what analysts do and they're doing it with tablets.
I saw the expected Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs. I was surprised to see Barnes and Noble Nooks and Amazon Kindles pressed into service as well.
Analysts were taking notes, writing research pieces, searching the Internet for context data and keeping up with Email. Some were doing this using the applications hosted by the tablets. More than a few were using an access virtualization tool, such as Citrix's Receiver, Logmein's cleverly named Logmein or some other such tool to access remote computing resources.
When asked, analysts would point out that these devices were smaller and lighter than a PC. They liked the long battery life. They said that using a tablet during the day and syncing up with their Laptops back in the hotel room had become their standard approach to conferences.
I guess that I'm still back in the dark ages. I carry my MacBook Pro and forgo the extra step of syncing up systems, carrying both a tablet and a laptop and still get my work done.
Have tablets become a required accessory at conferences?