Is Your Business Ready for Tablet Computing?

tabletMuch has been said about the launch of Apple’s long awaited, new mobile device. Called the Apple iPad, the device promises to boost sales of a new category of computing devices called tablets.

What are tablets?
Tablets or tablet PCs are not new, and the concept itself has been around for 30 years. Although it’s had some success in industrial and commercial environments, it’s struggled to gain wide adoption among consumers in the past. Tablets, simply put, are slate-shaped, hand-held personal computers often with a touch screen or a stylus as input devices instead of a traditional keyboard. They are smaller and handier to carry around than Netbooks, but have larger, more capable screens than smartphones. With its launch, Apple has largely stolen the spotlight on tablet PCs – but is by no means the only vendor selling them. Other vendors include HP, Fujitsu, Samsung, Asus, and many more. Some use Windows, others Linux, while still others have their own proprietary operating systems.

A special category of tablet PCs is ebook readers such as Amazon‘s Kindle and Barnes and Nobles‘s Nook. These are specialized tablets, primarily designed for viewing digital content.

What are tablets good for?
For consumers, the tablet’s appeal is that its form makes it easier to carry around and surf the Internet. Its larger screen allows users to view and interact with applications and media more comfortably than with a smartphone.

What about business?
Tablets seem to have hit their stride in niche applications within industry and commerce. For people in the field, it can be more convenient to carry around and better suited to outdoor conditions than a laptop, yet can be as powerful and capable. With the entry of Apple into the market, more generalized business applications could find its way to the devices, including:

  • on-the-go presentation delivery
  • quick information access
  • on-the-go content creation and editing, such as photos, audio and video recording, and documents
  • easy information sharing and collaboration

Are Tablet PCs right for your business?
If you’re considering using Tablet PCs in your business, here are some things to consider:

  1. Connectivity. How does the device connect to the Internet? Can it work within your existing office network? Can it securely access your data remotely (i.e., work with your existing VPN infrastructure)?
  2. Security. Does the device support the encryption of data? Can it authenticate against your existing applications?
  3. Portability. How much power does it consume? How long can it go between charges?
  4. Interoperability. Can you access your existing applications such as email? Can you use your existing network services? Can it open existing data and file formats such as your office documents and spreadsheets? Does it require significant investment to outfit and manage on an ongoing basis?
  5. Usability. Does it have enough power to run the applications you need? Is it easy to use or will it require extensive training?

Even if you decide not to adopt the Tablet into your business environment, you may need to consider the impact that your employees may have using these devices on their own to do their work, as many began doing when Netbooks and Smartphones came out.

If you would like to learn more about how Tablet PCs can affect your business and your IT services, contact us today. We will be glad to help.

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