Tablets are going to replace computers — or so we’re told. Despite divided opinions over tablet use in corporations, they’re coming… fast. While the screen of a smartphone may be too small for books, documents and articles, tablets bring the best features of a full-size computer to our fingertips. Free of bulk and excessive cords and filled with apps for everything we need, it’s hard to imagine a future in which the tablet isn’t a standard gadget.
Though it’s exciting to view this emergence as a consumer, business owners should be prepared for the technology shift toward the tablet. No matter what industry you’re in, there are small changes that can be made now to prepare for an inevitable frontier. Even more so, by integrating the tablet into your business model earlier than others, you can actually boost your business — now.
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I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs the following question:
What are some tips for getting the most out of a pricey tablet in your small business?
Here are 14 simple tips for overcoming common tablet handicaps and making the most of the gadget for your business:
1. Everyone Has a Type
“While tablets have pretty awesome keyboards and touchscreens, we’re still very much programmed to type on a regular keyboard. Plus, you can really increase your efficiency while working on a table with a keyboard attachment.”
2. Keep Your Tools
“OnLive Desktop gives you remote access to Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. It’s perfect for doing work on the go, and along with a Bluetooth keyboard, your tablet can replace your computer when needed.”
3. Pitch the Clients
“Tablets are worth their money when you effectively use them in getting deals done. Make a practice of finding ways to incorporate your corporate tablets into client meetings. For example, if you’re a mobile development firm, you can do app demos on tablet to show the prospective customer how the app works. Or, replace pen-to-paper during meetings and take your notes on the sleek tablet instead.”
4. Don’t Be Cheap!
“Don’t be afraid to spend “too much” on apps. Applications like Keynote and Air Sharing that hit the $10 price point are worth the extra money. To embrace the mobility that comes with tablets, you need to spend the money and time on creating systems that actually allow you to use the tablet in everyday business tasks.”
5. Limit Your Gigs
“Don’t fall prey to the psychology of getting enough storage “in the event that you need it.” I currently have a 32GB iPad using that theory, and looking back, I could’ve gotten the 16GB and been more than covered. Tablets are ultimately for consumption and display, so content can be accessed via the cloud. Apps like Splashtop even let you access your desktop remotely via your tablet.”
6. Plan Ahead
“A data plan can save you time and money. Free wireless access isn’t quite ubiquitous yet, and you never know when you might need the Internet. I’ve been able to easily demo my product for potential investors and business partners in coffee shops and hotel lobbies, thanks to my data plan.”
7. Pick Your Battles
“I quickly learned that while tablets are great for some business functions, they’re no means a replacement for more robust computers — yet. For instance, drafting a document that requires viewing multiple sources on the tablet is an exercise in frustration; on the other hand, they’re great when you need to focus on drafting one piece. Don’t try to make the tool fit the wrong activity.”
8. The Tradeshow Star
“I always invest in having the best iPad available. I love to bring them to tradeshows, walk around and show live demos of my website to prospective clients. Tablets are a great tool for mobile presentations, and people love to geek out on the latest technology too — they may listen to your pitch if only to play with your cool tablet!”
9. Mind Map Ideas
“I love mind maps, and although there are tons of tools to create mind maps on a desktop or laptop, using a tablet to create mind maps allows you to jot down ideas on the go. It also helps to visualize an idea from start to finish — without being distracted by the multitasking environment that a full computer offers.”
10. Learn Your Target Medium
“If your customers are looking at your site or product on a tablet, make sure that you’re giving them a great experience. The fact that our online reporting dashboard renders nicely on an iPad is a big advantage for our company over some of our competitors.”
11. Consume That Content
“Tablets are best for consuming content — downloading books and PDFs and streaming videos — and communicating with others. Make sure your tablet can do all of this, but be clear on its limits. Tablets aren’t computers, so certain features won’t be as good, if even possible.”
12. Get Creative With Clients
“If you have retail business, why can’t the tablets replace the regular menus or brochures? Why not have an in-house sale that’s only available on your tablet (yes, not even on your website)? How about replacing the whole POS for a tablet with POS app. Let clients use and have fun with them.”
13. Download Apps Wisely
“When people get tablets, they often head for the App Store and download hundreds of apps that just add more confusion, more chaos and more inefficiencies to their businesses. Instead, download the apps that compliment the programs you already use in your business so you can create a seamless workflow, instead of adding more steps to it.”
14. Got a Pen?
“Whether it’s scribbling down notes, making mind maps or drawing crude prototype images, the ten bucks I spent on a pen for my iPad has completely changed it from being solely a consumption device to a creative resource.”
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