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Tablets! They’re Coming to a Business Near You!

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(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As you know… tablets, iPads, netbooks, Blackberry’s, Androids, iPhones are all the rage. Other than all the rage, this technology is:

 

• Highly desired!

• HOT and trendy!

• Just in its infancy

• Cutting-edge technology

• Coveted by businesses to attain a competitive advantage.

 

Some companies are currently utilizing tablet technology with mixed results. The results weigh much more on the positive side. The short-comings simply need to be addressed, and they will be. Let’s look at some examples of the tactics organizations are using to implement tablet technology. If I do say so, some companies are implementing these innovative gadgets in some extremely creative ways.

 

You wouldn’t expect to see the latest Samsung tablet in a garbage truck, right? Well, you would be wrong!

 

Approximately seven months ago, Waste Management equipped an estimated 20 trucks with Samsung 7-inch touch-screen units for testing purposes. These devices had software loaded with route and pickup instructions. The software had to be customized to work with the Samsung tablets. Waste Management was researching whether consumer-grade tablets could save the company on costs and improve performance over using robust industry-specific tools. Whichever direction the company chose, the focus was to identify a system that would assist Waste Management to replace the current paper-based routing system.

 

Proving that we don’t live in a perfect world, Waste Management encountered a wee bit of a snag. At the 11th hour and unbeknownst to Waste Management, the company’s telecom carrier sent an update to the Gingerbread Android operating systems on all the tablets. The ill-timed software update made the on-board charging system on the tablets inoperable. The software upgrade wouldn’t make for much of a test if the units ran out of power while crews were on the road, now would it?

 

This little issue has now been rectified, and Waste Management has high hopes for the project in the future. The company plans to decide later this year whether to use tablets in the firms’ approximately 20,000 vehicles.

 

Waste Management’s experience is just one example of the possible lessons organizations learn as these firms attempt to incorporate consumer-grade iPad and Android tablets. In many cases these experimentally-minded companies plan to implement these devices in ways the manufacturers never planned. Currently, tablets are utilized in warehouses, hospitals, cockpits, and boardrooms. Tablets are employed in such diverse ways as assisting salespeople in making calls to literally being tested on the battlefield.

 

Some experts claim that this trend in the “consumerization of IT” will make IT departments and organizations irrelevant simply because companies are incorporating easy-to-use consumer-grade gadgets and software. Sorry, it’s not wise to come to that conclusion too quickly. Various companies’ initial tests with tablets indicate that the need for creative IT is still needed at times. Here’s another example of what a pioneering company learned.

 

Company Salespeople Need Content

Salespeople are often the first to get company-issued tablets. Why you may ask? Well, because a firm’s sales staff is:

 

• Mobile

• In need of instant access

• Presenting to customers

 

Keep in mind, providing tablets to your sales staff with just email is no better than simply issuing smartphones. What can your salespersons accomplish with tablets?

 

• Display videos

• Create presentations

• Display product demos to customers

 

And guess what? IT specialists will need to provide assistance to your sales staff. That is guaranteed!

 

More Real World Cases

 

High-end furnishing company based in Chicago, Holly Hunt, tested iPads with the company’s salespeople. The Holly Hunt sales staff regularly present to big architecture and design firms. Neil Goodrich, Director of Business Analytics and Technology reports, “We discovered we didn’t have the right assets for them.” The firm had numerous beautiful photographs of available designs, yet the images did not render easily on a tablet. Salespeople had to create PowerPoint presentations with their laptops, and the viewing app wasn’t the best. Therefore, Holly Hunt’s IT department is currently developing an app that optimizes presentations for tablet viewing. At this point the organizations’ salespeople still need to create presentations on their laptops. At least this is a step forward for the Holly Hunt sales staff.

 

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Telecom provider, Level 3, went further with the firms’ iPad rollout to 1,300 salespeople than did Holly Hunt. Level 3 built an app that permits salespersons to create presentations from start to finish on their iPads. Users are able to import standardized content like company and product descriptions, and then customize presentations with content specifically targeted to the prospective customer. Level 3’s IT specialists also built a native app for the company’s units that allow salespeople to incorporate data from various sources. This data includes:

 

• On-premises systems

• Generate price quotes

• CRM data from Salesforce.com

 

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Digital marketing firm, Blast Radius, has successfully completed cutting-edge projects with companies such as Starbucks and Nike. Blast Radius also built an app for a perfume maker to assist sales agents in department stores to guide shoppers to the fragrance that’s right for them. Using this as a springboard, Blast Radius is trying something new during their company sales presentations. Blast Radius’ innovative idea is to provide prospective clients with iPads during presentations instead of standing up and showing those same clients PowerPoint slides.

 

Gautam Lohia, Executive VP for Emerging Technology with Blast Radius says, “Face it people are going to have smartphones in front of them while you’re talking. Instead of being distracted by their smartphones, your smartphone and email, you’re distracted with our cutesy app.” Lohia adds, “Those iPads aren’t a gift, by the way. Blast Radius will need those back.”

 

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So, what’s the key point? Content for tablets needs to be created with these 3 considerations.

 

• Tablet platform being used

• Company-specific purposes

• Employee-specific requirement(s)

 

Please look for future posts providing you with examples of how other companies are implementing consumer-grade tablets, what these companies have learned in the process, and what these firms have gained.

 

Steve Whitaker

Steve’s Light Bulb Moments LLC

 

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