Tablets Take Root in business

July 8th, 2011

Hold on a second -- are tablets productivity boosters?

You’re not alone if you thought tablets were merely shiny toys for consuming media. Most of the television spots advertising these gadgets show game playing, video watching, and web surfing -- and not much in the way of work.

But that hasn’t stopped businesses from adopting these devices for their own gain. Infoworld recently reported on a New York law firm that deployed iPads to its team of attorneys. The firm, Proskauer, has had some hiccups with the rollout, but they’re not looking back:

"Today, more than 500 Proskauer lawyers use iPads to create superslick PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets filled with sky-high figures, and verbose Word documents. Lawyers pass this electronic paperwork back and forth among clients. They even present information on their iPads to judges."

Businesses that are ready to hop on the tablet bandwagon should prepare for the occasional bump. Early adopters must work through issues on the fly, without the benefit of others’ experience. Proskauer faced a lot of tough questions as it prepared for its iPad rollout.

“Rolling out the iPad actually turned out to be quite a significant investment in time, much more than I would have thought,” said Steven Kayman, chair of Proskauer’s technology committee, in an interview with Infoworld. “There’s just a hundred decisions that have to be made along the way.”

Such as: Do we give our team members a blank check when it comes to downloading apps? Or should we install a preset app menu before distributing the devices? Who are the best vendors for document management and remote desktop apps? How will all of these new endpoints effect our network security?

The tablet/app industry is still quite young and unruly, and that poses obstacles to businesses that don’t want to spend a lot of time and money testing new systems and tinkering with half-baked apps that were rushed to market. (Even big software makers like Citrix, Google, and Microsoft have debuted some real clunkers.)

But these drawbacks are likely temporary, and companies are undauntedly rushing into the tablet realm regardless. According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 3 out of 4 of the Fortune 500 have plans to deploy iPads to their workers. Health care organizations have similar ambitions, particularly those who have deployed EHR software to manage patient health records. According to a May 2011 survey from Quantia Communications, 32 percent of physicians currently have an Apple or Android tablet, and another 34 percent plan to purchase one within the year.  

Small businesses are predicted to get in on the action too: a March 2011 analysis from AMI-Partners anticipates that tablet adoption will grow 1000 percent by 2015, with 1 in 3 SMBs eventually using tablets on a daily basis.


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