Is a tablet the right tool for your employees?
Nobody can argue the explosive growth of tablets such as Apple’s iPad. Many people have written about the Post-PC era and how tablets are the future of computing. That, of course, poses the question of whether or not the future is now for your business. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a straight answer for whether or not a tablet is the right tool for your employees. We can, however, explain the advantages of tablets and give you some use cases to help you make an educated decision.
For starters, we can discuss tablets in the office. Tablets lose a lot of their advantages to their bigger and more capable counter parts when in the confines of the office space. You are still able to get a higher quantity of more varied work done in less time when working on a computer or a laptop. In the office, it is easy to overcome the downsides of a laptop or desktop. For desktops, the possibility of dual-monitors can lead to a serious increase in productivity. (Microsoft knew this almost TEN YEARS ago: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/vibe.aspx) Of course, being in the office eliminates the downside of desktops… being away from them. Laptops also lose some disadvantages while being in the office. For one, the battery life is a non issue with the availability of power plugs. They too can wire in, and take advantage of the increased network speed. Furthermore, PCs have the advantage of being able to print, something tablets can do, but not nearly as easily. Lets not forget the full suite of office programs (never mind what else your business uses). These things can be done on a tablet, but they are faster, easier, and often times more capable than the tablet counterparts.
The field is where tablets really shine. In order to get the same type of battery life (~10hrs worth) on a laptop, you’d likely be looking at a netbook or more likely, an ultrabook. The netbooks are cheap… and slow. The ultrabooks are fast, light, have good battery life, and are expensive… often 2-3 times more expensive than a capable tablet. A tablet shines in the field because it will last all day and will be easy to fit just about anywhere. As far as getting work done in the field, which is what this is all about, tablets specialize when you have something to focus on. It is because they are harder to multitask with that makes them great at accomplishing a single task. Allow me to give you a few examples.
I know someone that is a travelling nurse. All of her visits are roughly the same; she takes vitals, records progress or recovery, can record notes physical therapy, etc. I noticed that she was doing this mostly by hand. When she got back into the office, she would have to enter it into the company database. Lets compare that situation with a recent trip to the dentist.
It was my first visit. I was expecting to do the usual paperwork. Instead, I was given an iPad. I typed in my information within minutes, and it was automatically saved to their network. I thought about how much they saved, in money and in convenience, by having me use the tablet. They didn’t have to spend money on the paper, the ink, the pens, the clipboards, the data entry person, or any errors that may have occurred due to poor penmanship. Furthermore, most of the form was already filled out with the info I gave them over the phone, which, being a customer, was a nice surprise. Because this dentists’ office was using a tablet, it saved me some hassle, saved them some money (in the long run), and saved everyone some hassle.
If we apply my experience with a tablet from my dentist visit to the visiting nurse, we can really see how a tablet would work wonders, and be better than a laptop. The nurse would simply fill out a form, much like a webpage, that was already assigned to the patient’s file. A lot of information would be auto filled for the nurse. She would simply go down the list. Being on a tablet would also allow her to track how a wound is healing, without needing a second camera. She could simply take pictures and compare day to day or week to week.
I know that this is only one use case, but the next time you’re talking with your employees or even the next time you are a customer yourself, think of a way to make that person’s job easier and the entire process more streamlined. Chances are, a tablet is a good candidate for making it simpler.