Tech readiness drives SA up WEF ranks. Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

According to data by information technology research group Gartner, by 2013, 80% of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Will Hahn, a principal analyst in Gartner said that tablet growth would be significant.

He noted that in SA, the sale launch of the iPad 2 in April was in conjunction with the launch of Apple's device in China, highlighting a very positive sign of recognition from Apple on the growing significance of the market for its products in SA.

Research VP at Gartner, Mark Raskino noted an explosion in tablet devices in job roles that involved consumption.

Gartner CFO Christopher Lafond added that tablet devices like the iPad could start to dramatically change profitability of a business. He pointed to sales as being an area where a tablet could provide real value.

The financial head however, warned against increasing and significant security threats. He stressed that aside from the infiltration of systems in blue chip companies like US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin and technology group Sony, many lesser known companies in the US were facing cyber attacks multiple times every single day.

Hahn said that he remained “frustrated” with the rate of progress in the IT market in SA, blaming macro-economic issues among other things.

However, he did stress a change in the potential in the local market over the last year or two. “On balance, the signs are positive for the South African market,” Hahn said.

He alluded to a “two for one IT market,” namely the fact that SA had a substantial base market in its own right, while also doubling up as a hub for the rest of Africa for larger technology groups' investing in the continent.

Gartner forecast that by 2014, more than three billion of the world's adult population would be able to transact electronically via mobile or internet technology.

Hahn said that in SA, these types of transactions were mainly bank-led offers. He highlighted the announcement in June, by international payments solution provider, Visa that it would purchase Cape Town-based Fundamo, a mobile payments company focused on emerging markets, for US$110 million.

* Gareth Vorster was invited to attend the symposium by Gartner, a global technology research provider. - I-Net Bridge