They’ve gone from nowhere to everywhere in only two years. The message is clear: businesses that ignore tablets are in danger of getting left behind.
Change is the only constant in the fast-moving world of mobile technology, but few devices can claim to rival the tablet in terms of uptake, versatility and sheer appeal.
Even by the frantic standards of the mobile world, the speed with which tablets are being adopted is breathtaking. According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, more than 450 companies of the Fortune 500 had either deployed the iPad or were trialling it within 18 months of its launch.
“Tablets are not a corporate toy or gadget,” stresses Andy McFarlane, Head of Industry Solutions and Marketing at Vodafone Global Enterprise. “They’re transforming the way businesses work – particularly in the customer-facing environment.”
Your business transformed
So how are businesses using tablets? Andy identifies three typical applications: “The first and easiest to understand is personal productivity. At this level you’re using the tablet like a larger version of the smartphone – for emailing, viewing attachments, making PowerPoint presentations and taking notes. In essence, you’re using it just for yourself.”
The second case is collaboration – connecting to online or cloud-based knowledge-sharing resources such as salesforce.com’s CRM and business intelligence systems. The potential for interaction is huge, with the capability to manage, view and enjoy rich media content while on the move.
But it’s the third type of use – customer interaction – that’s causing the most excitement. “The tablet can create a more engaging experience,” Andy says. “That applies particularly in face-to-face encounters where previously there may well have been a computer screen acting as a barrier between you and the client.”
Stay with the customer
Tablets break down barriers and make it easier than ever to share rich, relevant content with customers whether they’re sitting at a desk, in a standing meeting or on the move. This has huge implications across every business sector.
They also make it possible to unshackle previously desk-bound activities. Concierge services in hotels and customer stock selection, for example, can be performed by roving employees armed only with a tablet, eliminating queues and boosting customer satisfaction.
The beauty of tablets – and one of the factors underpinning their phenomenal success – is that they provide a rich, easily accessible user experience. But as Vodafone Global Enterprise’s Pain Points survey reveals, CIOs remain worried about losing control of mobile devices.
“To make them work as an effective corporate asset, controls, visibility and management need to be layered on,” Andy stresses. “Our Managed Tablets service meets that need and gives businesses peace of mind.”
This service from Vodafone Global Enterprise touches every part of the product life-cycle, including supply and connection. Crucially, it also allows CIOs to enforce robust security controls for devices and user groups, so the organisation can be sure that they’re complying with its regulations.
Managed Tablets also means comprehensive control. An administrator console makes all your tablets and smartphones completely visible, so managing and supporting mobile operations is easy. The device management service also allows businesses to boost employee productivity with targeted applications.
“We can create an area on the device for recommending or promoting applications specific to that user,” Andy explains.
“You can use this portal for distributing business-specific applications appropriate to user profiles, so you can be sure that the right people are getting the right applications.”
Making tablets work
Experience shows that the most successful mobile devices are those that touch every part of people’s lives – ones that have a meaning beyond work alone. The smartphone is an example, in large part because it meets both commercial and personal needs.
“The tablet plays very strongly as a more personal device, so it’s more like a phone than a laptop,” Andy says. “There’s an important personal choice and lifestyle aspect that needs to be recognised. If you’re going to use tablets successfully, we’d recommend that you make some concessions for personal use in addition to the primary corporate use. By doing this, you will make end-users feel more engaged and inclined to explore new uses for work purposes. Combining this with device management will ensure that your corporate regulations and security are not weakened.”