Tablets: what can they contribute to the business environment?
The tablet market is booming, and yet the general consensus is that tablets are primarily entertainment devices. Yet, companies have been incorporating tablets into the everyday running of their businesses. Despite somewhat mixed levels of success in incorporating tablets into big corporations, there are obvious benefits to the business of giving tablets to their employers.
Mobility: It goes without saying that tablets are more mobile than laptops and PCs. The benefits of this is that an employee could take their tablet with them into meetings and presentations, and have all the information they need available to them, without being encumbered by carrying a heavy and bulky laptop around with them.
Better Communication¬: This is another offshoot from the benefits of mobility. Employees can use services such as Skype and other video chat applications to communicate with their colleagues whilst they are away from the office. This could also mean that video conferences can take place anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
Interactivity with customers: In many cases, employees (especially salespeople) will have to present information to their clients outside the office. In this instance the tablet becomes a very handy device. Information on products and services become easier to present, not to mention it will allow employees to give presentations without having to rely on a laptop or PC. At the very least, using a tablet when interacting with customers conveys a sense of professionalism and acts as assurance to the potential client that the company values them as clients.
But despite all these benefits, it could be argued that tablets are at the moment luxury accessories to large corporations and are not essential. The daily running of large businesses – and the creation of large documents, spreadsheets, and other files – is still more or less likely to be done on the PC or laptop, and so tablets are not likely to become the must-have gadget for the corporate world just yet.However for smaller businesses, like shops and restaurants, tablets can make a real difference and might actually help to improve their performance. Consider the following examples:
Credit/Debit Card Reader: Imagine you are a florist with a stall on the street, and your potential customer can only pay by card – and you have no credit card machine. Instead of losing the sale to a competitor, you take out your tablet and attach a card reader like the “Intuit GoPayment” onto the audio jack. You launch the Intuit app, the customer swipes his card and enters his or her PIN using the tablet, and the money is immediately transferred to the bank account of your choice. This method of payment is already getting more and more popular in the US, and once banks in the UK start fully utilising the potential of tablet technology, tablets could potentially transform thousands of small businesses across the country.
Replacement for scanner and cash register: Retail stores can use the front and back facing camera to act as a scanner for the products in their store, pretty much in a similar fashion as a QR reader. The tablet can also be connected to the cash register, with its interactive and customising options making it easier for retailers to complete each transaction. This would mean that businesses could save on the cost of maintaining and operating bulky cash registers and also saving physical space on the shop floor. The tablet could also run an app at the same time as the cash register that automatically counts the cash intake for the day, thus making it easier to keep track of accounts.
Replacement for computers: If you are operating a small business like a local bookshop, then chances are that your business is not dependent on the bulk creation of documents using Word or Excel. At most you might use a computer to go online and order products. In this instance, the tablet can actually be more preferable than the PC, as its mobility and lower costs would make it a much more suitable work device than a laptop or desktop computer.
Replacement for menus: Some restaurants are toying with the idea of replacing their menus with tablets, and lots of airport lounges do so already. And the appeal of this as a means of customer satisfaction is obvious as well: a customer can look over the menu on a tablet and have access to extra information about the food that they would not do in a paper menu. They could go online and check the calorie count of any food item they wish to order and they could even look at reviews of the food left by previous diners. Once they have chosen their dish, they can order then and there using the tablet, with the kitchen receiving the order immediately in the form of a message alert. And while they wait for the servers to bring in the food they could use the tablet to browse the web, or play a couple of games or maybe watch some clips on YouTube.
Tablets, therefore, can and do have their usefulness in the business world, especially for small businesses, but most businesses will have to think creatively to implement tablets as a functioning tool instead of a mere gimmick.