First came laptops, then smart phones, and now tablets have been added to the range of devices that are allowing companies to conduct business from anywhere. This article looks at some of the current and future business uses for Android tablets and iPads.
Tablets are starting to be used by retail businesses to provide information about products and allow customers to interact with their establishments. For example, some restaurants are using them instead of menus, so customers can send their orders straight to the kitchen. And some stores now have self-service tablets where customers can view demonstration videos, catalogues and price lists, locate products in the store and even pay for purchases without queuing up at a cashier’s window.
Many salespeople are now taking tablets with them when they meet clients. They can show them videos and sales presentations, check availability by calling up company stock levels and even get the client to sign on the dotted electronic line all in the one visit. They can also accept payment via electronic banking and send a receipt to the client via email.
Tablets are also starting to take the place of paper in company meetings, allowing participants to preview the agenda electronically and view statistics during the meeting, either individually or as a group by plugging the device into an overhead projector. Tablets are also a better alternative than smart phones for conducting video conferences, due to their larger screen size.
Many tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and builders who spend all day away from the office are finding tablets particularly useful. Not only can they make up invoices for clients and accept payments, but they can also use an Internet connection to check manuals and specifications while on the job.
Tablets are also performing a useful new role in the warehouse, where order pickers use them to scan barcodes on products they are picking, take pictures of damaged stock and conduct stocktakes. They can be carried on a forklift like a clipboard and their movements can be tracked throughout the warehouse via GPS location.
Many companies operating fleets are experimenting with tablets in their vehicles. Buses, taxis and delivery vehicles can use their GPS location capabilities to find their way around, make notes, check schedules and even contact head office from their cabs. And because they are touch sensitive and can be dash-mounted, they are safer to use than mobile phones.
Thanks to the development of new rugged construction tablets, construction workers, builders, surveyors, miners and anyone working outdoors can now take advantage of tablets while on the job. These tough outdoor tablets are more water-resistant and shock-resistant than normal tablets, and their screens are designed to be easily read in bright daylight.
As tablet technology improves, their uses in business will undoubtedly grow and there may even come a day when they are light and portable enough to be carried in the pocket of every worker, regardless of their occupation.