Now that the iPad has opened the floodgates on tablet computers, and the cost to own one of these devices is getting more reasonable (several models are selling for $200-$400), you may want to consider using them in your small business. Most of the research that has come out lately, such as this study by The Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB), indicates that these devices are here to stay, and they are becoming ever more business friendly.
Need a bit more encouragement? Here are five ways a tablet computer can be used to improve productivity and enhance your customer experience:
1. A glorified smart-phone. With a functionality that only builds on a smart-phone, yet with a screen size that averages 7- 10 inches, many are using their tablets for their mobile and Web-based capabilities. This typically includes remote access to desktops and private networks, using maps and GPS, viewing video, searching online directories, and managing and editing documents.
2. Powerful presentations. Aside from a slew of presentation apps and tools, such as Apple’s Keynote or the web-based SlideRocket, that can turn a tablet into a savvy, interactive presentation device, most tablet computers can run a presentation directly on a projector, TV, or monitor for larger audiences. There are also numerous document creation and editing apps, such as Quickoffice, that will allow you to create and edit your presentations along the way.
3. Web-based conferencing. While web-based conferencing is hardly new, tablets make the whole experience more fluid and natural due to their larger screens and powerful multimedia capabilities. Popular apps and tools such as WebEx, Fuze Meeting and Skype will allow you to attend meetings on the road with all the bells and whistles typical to web conferencing these days. This means streaming data, audio and video.
4. Point-of-sale transactions. While some consumers are quick to label tablet PCs (especially the iPad) as elitist and unnecessary, the truth is that the cost, even of an iPad, is often quickly recovered within a business due to the savings involved in using them. Mobile payments is one such area. With companies such as Square and Intuit GoPayment, business owners can easily sell merchandise and any other goods and services at a fraction of the cost of using a traditional credit card processor. Moreover, your transactions can occur securely where ever you are.
5. Data collection and management. The enhanced interface of a tablet PC means more user-friendly and robust features when it comes to data management. The possibilities of data creation, manipulation, and analysis as well as the apps and tools that support these processes are overwhelmingly abundant. You can manage, edit, and share databases, track projects, record events (whether via text, audio, or video), and produce status updates. Some apps to look at include: Bento for iPad, Evernote, and Salesforce Mobile.