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The Top Use Cases For Tablets in Business

By Amy Beth Miller for America's Backbone Weekly

The home improvement representative who measured my sister's house for new flooring last week didn't use a measuring tape or graph paper. Instead, he took the measurements by laser, put that data into a digital tablet he carried from room to room, and instantly drafted a floor plan that he uploaded to the main office.

Tablets are becoming ubiquitous in restaurants, hospitals, airlines and other businesses, allowing employees to collect, use and provide data on the go.

While consumer sales of tablet computers have plateaued, business use is booming. Workers love the convenience of tablets according to Forrester Research, pointing to delivery drivers, sales associates and field technicians as just some of the workers now relying on tablet computers.

Tablets are being used:

To show information easily
Because of their size and portability, tablets are a great way to display information to another person more comfortably than on a desktop monitor. Walk just about any trade show floor these days and you'll find exhibitors in many booths using tablets. Now retailers are using tablets to make the shopping experience more social too. At a Tommy Hilfiger store in Germany, customers can snap a selfie in the dressing room and share it on social media to ask for friends' opinions about their clothing selections.

To put information at employee's fingertipsInstead of lugging around aircraft manuals, navigational charts, weather reports and more on paper, pilots can now use "Electronic Flight Bags," such as special Surface tablets, and Microsoft is working with a vendor to create special docking stations that connects directly to cockpit systems.

To improve service
Delivery drivers for a Milwaukee pharmacy carry tablets so customers can videoconference with pharmacists about their medications. A toy store in the United Kingdom is equipping sales staff with tablets so they can check inventory from the store floor and then hand the tablet to a customer to complete an online sale. A New York hot dog restaurant is streamlining its lunch rush by sending order-takers with tablets to work its customer line.

To allow customers to serve themselves
Two years ago, NPR reported how restaurants were beginning to use tablets for everything from giving diners a wealth of information about the wine list, to the ability to summon a waiter easily. Now McDonald's is testing tablets in the fast-food restaurant that allow customers to order customized hamburgers

At a basic level, you can use a tablet as a second screen for a desktop computer or as a teleprompter when delivering a speech. On a sales floor it can improve staff coverage and service.

Tablets also can be a low-cost solution for many businesses. For example, a farm stand in Maryland uses tablets held in stands as its cash registers and to encourage customers to sign up for its mailing list.

Improvements to the bottom line
In an international survey Harris Poll conducted for Dell, IT decision makers estimated tablets increase business productivity by 20 percent or more.

A dominant provider of tablets for restaurants, Ziosk, says the business benefits go beyond convenience. In restaurants with tablet service:

  • Customers order more beverages and desserts, and

  • Tables turn over 5 to 10 minutes faster.

Some servers say it has increased their tips too.

With those kinds of results, using tablets in a business can quickly pay for the cost of the devices and the data plan to cover the data usage of your connected workforce.

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Amy Beth Miller is a writer and editor helping people succeed in business for more thana decade. She has written news articles, features, blogs, newsletters,e-letters white papers and training manuals.
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