iPad or Computer Tablet for your business?

iPad’s were originally seen as the ultimate geek accessory, but now as they are becoming more common, cheaper, and functional are they going to become the tool of choice in the future for businesses.  Soon across Australia we are going to inundated with choice, but do we really need another tech toy?

Apple’s much hyped iPad gave a boost to a now thriving ‘tablet computing’ industry.  And with the recent launch of the iPad2, many business owners are wondering if this technology should be invested in or not.

The latest iPad is thinner, lighter and faster than the original and now boasts a front camera in addition to the rear-facing camera. Other manufacturers can also be found in the small, touchscreen computer market, including Samsung, HP, Toshiba, Motorola, Dell, Lenovo and Sony. They predominately use either Google’s Android software or Microsoft’s Windows.

But is this technology just for nerds, high flying corporate executives and people addicted to the Angry Birds game?  If you’re thinking about a tablet computer, learn about its limitations and focus on what benefit it could add to your business.

With a tablet, you can read information on a screen much larger than your phone, without having the weight and start-up time of your laptop.  You can browse through documents, emails and websites, check your calendar or find telephone numbers or directions.  They can also handle small amounts of data entry easily, replacing your paper & pen at the meeting table.  However, they would never replace your ‘full-function’ computer completely as they are not suitable for long hours of data entry, printing can be problematic and not all of your preferred software titles will run on them.

So, let’s look at how tablets are being used in the small business market:

Real estate – A great website is a realtor’s dream, enabling them to showcase multiple images of many properties.  Add a good search function and you can narrow down your portfolio as you discuss the needs of the prospective buyer that’s in front of you. The tablet now gives you that website on the road, ready to hand to the prospective buyer for them to thumb through property images as you sip coffee between open home sessions.

Anyone in sales – As many small business sales meetings are conducted at coffee shops or at the buyer’s premises, see ‘Real estate’ above, but add the ability to showcase product presentations and customer testimonials during your meeting.

Competitions – If you are running a promotion where people have to enter their details to win, the tablet is a great device to have at fairs and trade shows. Let people enter their own details and save you the data entry. This works even better if your entry form is already on your website anyway.

Subscriptions & registrations – See ‘Competitions’ above, but think of newsletters, sports teams etc. In fact, this can apply to nearly anywhere that you need to get capture people’s information. Just make sure they’re not going to run off with your tablet!

As with any technology purchasing decision, you want to know that your investment is going to enhance and improve how you do business. Talk to your Computer Troubleshooter about your technology needs and whether a tablet is right for your business, or whether it’s just another gadget.