Three Things to Consider Before Deploying Tablets in Your SMB

Paul Mah
Slide Show

The Role of Tablets in the Enterprise

Tablets may one day soon take their place alongside PCs and smartphones as standard-issue IT equipment.

I've recently blogged about the new iPad and wrote about its impact on your SMB . Though I've concluded that the improvements in the new iPad are not relevant for most businesses, I did highlight how Apple's decision to offer the 16GB version of the iPad 2 at a reduced price actually served as an inducement for the commercial deployment of the iPad.

 

In the past, I've highlighted various business uses for an Apple iPad here and here. Given the need to make judicious use of limited funds, however, small and mid-sized businesses may want to look through the below checklist before heading out en masse to purchased tablets.

 

Consider use cases

 


It would be an utter waste of funds to purchase a tablet for company deployment without first compiling a realistic list of use cases. This is especially important due to the natural appeal of getting an iPad, necessitating the turning of a critical eye towards realistic uses versus imagined or hoped-for improvements to workflows. Moreover, it is also well known that the iPad excels at single tasks and fares rather poorly when users are forced to repeatedly switch between apps. As such, apps that encapsulate an SMB's needs in its entirety are preferred; companies may want to start off by compiling a list of such applications and evaluating their suitability.

 

Factor mobile data into the equation

 

Aside from deployment scenarios limited to office or fixed locations, businesses would do well to factor mobile data costs into the equation. For SMBs that are already subsidizing mobile bills for their employees, this may prove to be negligible. For others, this could cost tens of dollars per device, which can mount up quickly if deployed to hundreds of staffers. And given the trend of mobile providers pulling unlimited data plans, it is beholden upon businesses to clearly communicate if they will be held responsible for excessive usage resulting in exorbitant mobile data bills.

 

Complementary or replacement

 

Finally, one question that SMBs must ask themselves would be whether the new tablet will complement existing PC workstations or replace them. Though the post-PC term is a popular term being juggled around a lot lately, the truth is that many types of work are still best done on a full-fledged laptop or desktop computer.

 

And as I outlined in "Do Notebooks Matter in the Age of Tablets & Smartphones?" which was published on our sister website SmallBusinessComputing, the much larger display, ease of switching between multiple applications and abundance of peripherals remain the reasons for using a PC. So while a tablet can replace a PC in certain circumstances, SMBs should take care to not automatically assume that a tablet is adequate to replace a proper desktop.



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Apr 9, 2012 11:20 AM Valentine Stubbs Valentine Stubbs  says:

A tablet from a business point of view is not a replacement for a desktop or laptop computer but it is an important addition. First let's level the playing field, most if not all working people have use of a computer of some type on there desk. Second a lot of people, if not most, have to attend meetings, whether in the same office, building, city, or country. There are very few people the can actually go to work, never leave there desk for more than lunch, consumption or disposal of coffee. Even in, and maybe more so, in a 1 man operation. Would anyone in business not have a cell phone, or smart phone, many balked at the idea of first notebooks, cell phones, or smart phones. How many times have I seen people rushing to a meeting, scrambling to set up thier note book, having problems to find power and what not, and end up using a paper notepad to take notes away from the meeting, thereby either wasiting time to transcribe the information back at the office, or worse yet late at night at home. How many people had should pain, arthritis, or worse, from lugging around a laptop, power supply, mouse, cables, notepads, books, and god knows what else are in those bulging cases most people "tote" around with them... Now think about that same works with and iPad, one device, it dose not have to have file access all the time, you just load it with the refferrence documents you need, can take notes without producing a society of people the cant straighten there thumbs from smart phone cramp. If the need to to send info back to home base well email works just fine for that, we don't have to worry about the unlimited amout of peripheral devices that accompany your portable data center. Rather they return back to there network computer/office and then transfer the notes, reports, or what ever and then massage the data, notes, reports, to there finished form. I my opinion the price of a reasonably decent tablet of 32gb or 64gb, without 3/4G access is cheap if you take all other stuff into consideration. As to the sole arguement about Smb access, move on there are many other very capable methods, to complish the very same thing. And if the real issue is that there is not an IT person, group, department, that is willing to bring a technology into the environment, and as a network, security, manager, then they need to be upgraded. Just don't miss the boat, when it comes to making your business, company easier, because most of the additional benefits are the ones you don't see right away. Yes the bottom line is important, but that bottom line can be affected by more that the cost assessment.

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May 6, 2012 12:53 PM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Valentine Stubbs

@Valentine Thanks for your comments, which outlined some interesting ideas where tablets can be used. I'm all for the use of tablets, having owned a couple of them.

I'm not so sure if employees would be better off using a tablet than bringing their laptop along though. In work environments where laptops are heavily used, its not uncommon to see workers bringing along their laptops for meetings (minus the power adapters - since most meetings lasts less than 3-4 hours). The added benefit would be a very good keyboard for data entry versus the on-screen keyboard of most tablets.

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May 25, 2012 4:54 AM Samia Samia  says: in response to Valentine Stubbs

Interesting article about iPad in business world. For my part, I use everyday at work especially for my meetings. So, i'm always looking for an professional app which is efficient for my work and I think I found "The one".

I recommend a business application "Beesy" for note taking/ToDo/Project management.

I used  as note taking EverNote and then Awesome Note  for a long time and their ability to sync but both had a disadvantage ; the lack of features to accommodate tasks, to-do and make monitoring.

So I was seeking an alternative application to save time for my meeting. A month ago, I  discovered Beesy, an note taking and management app ToDo which include taking notes with a business way.  Also, the advantage is Beesy generates automatically ToDo from your notes and it's really useful and efficient. This application is wonderful. I save a lot of time and i start appreciating meetings again

If you are interested you can google "Beesy"

All the best,

Sam

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