Apple's iPad will probably disrupt the way technology is currently used and rattle present business models, so CEOs should check their firms are positioned to take advantage of tablets, according to Gartner.
The research firm predicted worldwide tablet sales of 19.5m in 2010 driven by the iPad, while it believes the tablet market is set to explode next year, shifting almost 55m devices and surpass 208m units in 2014.
Stephen Prentice, VP and Gartner fellow, said: "It is not usually the role of the CEO to get directly involved in specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is an exception. It is more than just the latest consumer gadget. CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about if they have not already done so."
The firm recommends IT organisations provide ‘a least ‘concierge-level' iPad support' for selected key users and work out a plan for widespread support for the device by mid 2011, in its latest report.
Gartner has also suggested that CEOs ask their marketing and product development teams work on ideas on how iPads could be used by the company and its competitors, because it believes the iPad has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business models and markets of many organisations.
"We are already seeing announcements about competing devices from other vendors, including RIM, Samsung, HP and Dell, but the iPad is currently well ahead of the pack with the lion's share of the market," he added.
Perhaps surprisingly given its price tag, analysts at Gartner believe the iPad is not a notebook replacement for most users, but a ‘companion device' as it is "much less intrusive in face-to-face environments than conventional notebooks and is well suited to a sales or information-sharing environment."
The firm noted the iPad is being used in a wide range of business environments from retail and realtors to the finance and healthcare sectors.
Gartner has urged CEOs to act ‘sooner rather than later' and Prectice added: "While there are no certainties, the iPad looks set to become a market-disrupting device, like the iPod before it. Even if you think it is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the price of delay may well be extremely high."