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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Apple iPad, RIM Playbook, Samsung Androids, HP Tablet, Sales Tools, Productivity and the Cloud: 7 Super Tips

Apple iPad, RIM Playbook, Samsung Androids, HP Tablet, Sales Tools, Productivity and the Cloud: 7 Super Tips

Tablets are the hot item and it’s now become pervasive in the business environment. Progressive IT departments are now seriously looking at tablets in place on laptops due to a lower TCO and the perfect tool for Cloud Computing. Forward thinking sales departments are also embracing the tablet as the tool of choice to arm and differentiate their sales force from their competitors.

This means 2011 could be the tipping point for business use tablets but the market is in limbo right now. Apple has not released their new iPad although it’s rumored to feature a zippier CPU, more memory, a HD camera and possibly a SD card Slot. RIM is still not ready to ship but they featured a working model at CES last month and may be the only one with a real 4G radio inside. Samsung is making some headway with the Android powered Tab. HP is almost ready to go with their Palm OS version using WebOs. I am anxious to see what HP does come up with being a long standing Palm Pilot warrior ( I own the keyboard, Camera and modem and use the Palm III for a specialized application right now) but sure hope they don’t follow the disastrous Lifedrive product (As an early adopter I returned 2 weeks later sadly disappointed but it had the right idea. OK, enough about Palm so why would one consider a Tablet for business? The apps are here and the apps are cheap and cheerful to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Super Tablet App 1: Sales Brochure

You’re engaged in a discussion with a client and he is curious to see what the solution looks like and you slide the tablet across with a slide of an installation of a recent food processing assembly line for juice processing. Vibrant photos and instant ON allows things to be done quickly. Beats looking at a black and white slide deck.

Super Tablet App 2: Projected Sales Brochure

With the recent mini LCD projectors that fit in an overcoat pocket, this allows the sales executive to now project the slides onto the wall so a larger audience can benefit. Again, instant on with a simple connection. I once had to travel to Chicago to do a presentation and I had to carry my 10 lb laptop, power cords, mouse, Panasonic LCD projector 15lbs, printed slides etc. I was stalled at security as I had to demonstrate the projector to them by turning it on and almost missed my flight. Today I could do that with everything fitting neatly in my super useful Victorinox briefcase and demonstrating a professional image of selling in the NOW. I can also use the cloud to get access to other documents.

Super Tablet App 3: Increase Productivity

Do more in less time and do faster and easier is the mantra of the past 5 years. The cheap and simple 99 cent apps that do note taking (and can sync with your Windows desktop), margin calculator, idea charts and other business tools make things easier. A bunch of these applications due to the inherent memory restrictions of the tablets can now sync into the cloud and across corporate network laptops to access the information you require. Of course wifi and 3G/4G is needed at times to avoid syncing through iTunes. Everyone will have different needs but the tools are definitely there. Companies are taking notice and I give special recognition to Avaya and Benjamin Moore for specific tools for their extended sales force. I have noticed that some people have created specific documents in PDF format as reference material and this helps their personal workflow. Apples 10 hour battery life is a big game changer as many laptops and Netbooks usually get 2 hours of life.

Super Tablet App 4: File Sharing

The biggest problem I have had with the iPad is its closed ecosystem and inability to have an SD card slot for file sharing. Everything has to be done in iTunes and it’s a hassle. However, some bypass that by using a VPN proxy using wifi to allow file transfer and more recent cloud computing access methods. It seems everyone else is talking about the ability to use SD Cards so Apple needs to listen to their consumers. Apps like Dropbox, Mover, PDF Viewer allow an easier cloud based method to share files from the laptop to the tablet device. This is a huge need as one can prepare a PowerPoint presentation in the office, slide it to their tablet, review and practice it while on the couch at home, and take it out to the customer presentation the next day.

Super Tablet App 5: Your Book and Magazine Reader

Although I am a big Kindle fan for reading books, it’s challenged for reading PDF magazine formats as I prefer a 10 inch screen. The Kindle is my preferred book reading device because they have nailed the reader ecosystem in a excellent way with cloud based whispernet ,but many may not wish to have multiple devices. Use it to catch up on reading on the train, bus, cab, airplane or while sitting on the beach. There are some new apps allowing one to also take web pages and format them into readable pages which could be useful in reading customer web sites for meeting preparation or just to see what your industry blogs are saying. There are also many RSS apps to keep you abreast of managing all the news feeds you follow. Read more in less time at a lower cost.

Super Tablet App 6: Office in a Large Manila Envelope

The box is so much thinner and smaller now that the envelope is appropriate. We have some excellent apps available now to edit and review all your Microsoft documents. The email tools are in-skin allowing easy access to emails, but it’s still going to be an issue for larger corporations to allow access to corporate exchange severs, but the SMB companies will embrace this very easily. Calendaring with Google calendar in the cloud is a great tool across multiple devices. So if you are away for a few days at your cousins wedding the tablet would allow one to be connected and still get some work done while away from the corporate grid.

Super Tablet App 7: Social Media Integrator

With Social Media maybe being the biggest Cloud app of them all and all avialable on tablets. I find it very easy to quickly update and see what others are doing as the Tablet allows a quick finger swipe to access the info and its in a easy to digest mobile format. I don’t have to tell you that Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and others are all app available on every device including your IP enabled refrigerator. Business is really seeing the mobile device becoming the new method to reach out to its audience and consumers and is formatting connect to be mobile friendly.

So its all starting to come to a convergence point for the business user that can harness immense benefits from light, travel friendly, instant ON, long battery life appliances to assist in getting things done faster, easier, better but not cheaper. I am seeing areas where organizations are taking the leap to buy these devices for their employees to drive revenue and increase productivity. Last year, the kindle was the reader of choice where companies stuffed them full of technical documentation and sales and marketing training bibles for its sales people to use to increase their knowledge and effectiveness and the shift is going to move to the tablet.

The biggest dilemma for 2011 will be which device and when is it going to be available???? Tough decision for sure but the results will be very impressive as the mobile workforce scurries about getting things done quickly and easily.

John Leonardelli
Senior UC Consultant

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