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W5 of Our New Tablet Lives

Tablets for Business

81% of businesses expect to support their workforce using tablets in the near future.

Simple math will tell you that means 8 out of 10 businesses will be using them. Think about that statement for a second…  That’s almost every business.

That stat comes from a paid Forrester report that we accessed, and was based on all of Europe and North America. So for most people in Manitoba we know the drill. We’re used to seeing a trend on TV, magazine or now online from around the world, knowing that after a while (maybe a couple years) it will hit our market and come to Winnipeg. Remember these flashbacks that finally made their way here?

For me the biggest question is, “Who will be the first and who will lead the way?” It has always impressed me when companies take that initiative to innovate and be the early adopter. When it’s successful it tends to be impressive and others will follow suit. This can be evidenced with technology over the years like the fax machine or even email, which we now take for granted as a standard business requirement.

MTS’s primary research shows that Manitoba is lagging behind on tablet usage. In 2013 only 22% of companies were using tablets and that number only increased to 26% through 2014. If the Manitoban market is to eventually reflect the global one there is a huge amount of growth to still happen.  In fact, Forrester data also showed that Manitoba lags about 10% behind the Canadian average on technology adoption surveys.

It could be time to take two steps forward and consider the tablet in a whole new business light.  Let’s explore the five W’s of tablets to shed some of that light on the technology that will undoubtedly find its way into every Manitoba business.

WHO will use tablets?

There are certain industries that seem to develop better, more beneficial uses for tablets than others. As with any technology trend it will not have a universal benefit. Some will find a value in adding it to their workforce and others will not. Is a company in need of a cheap alternative to a POS system? Do you need web access on the go with a screen larger than your phone? Does your workforce need a productivity tool more portable than a laptop? These are some of the topics to be analyzed when deciding on a tablet versus the alternative. Identify if switching to a tablet will increase revenue, decrease expenses, improve productivity or any other aspect of your business operations. In the end, the “who” will be “you”, as these considerations affect every business.

WHAT will a business use a tablet for?

What you use your tablet for will depend on what type of tablet you will need. User needs will fall into two categories: 1) Wi-Fi Users or 2) Mobile Users. If your business is a stationary bricks and mortar location such as a coffee shop that uses a POS system then an internal Wi-Fi Internet connection may be all you need. Depending on the Internet needs of your store, you may benefit from a sharing plan that allows you to share data across devices. And on top of that you might be able to provide better Wi-Fi for your customers.

However, if you or your employees are at many different locations throughout the day then the mobile variation may better suit your needs. For example, a small trades company may regularly go to customers’ homes to accept payments on site.

To make this decision, consider if you will constrict yourself through Wi-Fi range. Write out a list of your regular business tasks and beside each item make a note if you could use a tablet in that scenario. Then jot down which of those items you’d need Internet access to accomplish and you’ll soon realize which device option is better suited to your business. Even though Wi-Fi range has increased dramatically since the release of Wireless N technology, if you regularly leave the confines of your Internet accessible stationary location you’ll need that extra mobile connection.

WHY do you need a tablet?

Let’s face it, a lot of people ‘want’ a tablet, but do you actually ‘need’ one? We’re in a whole new era of technology with apps dominating our devices and brand new wearable devices coming into the fold faster than you can swipe right. So you may actually justify the need.

By embracing current and future technology, you’re bringing your business a step forward. You’re enabling your employees, connecting your customers and presenting your business brand as one that is current and accessible. Does that seem like a stretch? If it does, think back to when credit cards used to be processed on old-school manual swipe device with carbon paper. After the new digital swipe machines became popular, companies still using the manual swipe machines could be viewed as archaic and behind the times.

In the same way, tablets can now replace the folder of papers stacked on your desks. You can ditch the cumbersome laptop and instead slip the lightweight tablet into a pocket of your shoulder bag.  And mobile plans no longer break the bank so having a tablet may become a staple of the business toolkit.

WHERE should you get a tablet?

This is really dependent on if you are purchasing tablets with cellular capability or not. If you only are in need of a Wi-Fi device then any electronics store is fine. If you want to get cellular enabled tablets then you can typically look towards a telecom provider that will typically also provide the option to purchase a device at a subsidy.

WHEN should you get a tablet?

If you were nodding in agreement to most of the above W’s, then consider getting into tablets for your business sooner than later. Tablets are no longer in an infancy stage, so the bugs and faulty hardware are pretty much a thing of the past. No doubt you’ll get your money’s worth with any new device so all you need to decide on is the size of screen, resolution and connectivity needs. For a limited investment you may also see a return with more productive apps, employees and customer service.

Has your business already used tablets on a regular basis? Let us know the best ways you’ve connected below and we’ll discuss specific examples in the next article on connected devices.

Image via Martin Voltri (added title)

Neil Hutmacher

I have always had a strong interest in technology. It is always moving forward and there is always something new. I have tried my hardest to keep my career track in line with what I love - and where better than telecommunications. Working in product development at Bell MTS, I am in the focal point of technology for Manitoba. Working in several Marketing roles, I find the best spot for me is where I develop creative product solutions to get them into the right hands in the right way.

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