Tablets have been perhaps the most surprising innovation of the last ten years—one of those magical products that we “didn’t know we needed”. From the briefcases of executives to the pockets of wait staff, tablets have become ubiquitous in nearly every industry. Here are a few of the biggest ways tablets have changed the face of the business world.
1. Building the market for cloud technology
One of the most noticeable changes that tablets have produced in the business world is actually caused by a weakness. Since tablets lack the raw computing power of a desktop, they’re often inadequate to run the most cutting-edge business software—so app developers began working around that limitation with apps that did the “heavy lifting” off-site, and simply streamed the relevant information back to the tablet. Consequently, we’ve seen an explosion in demand for cloud-based business resources and faster connection speeds, leading to more efficient use of server resources across the board, even for desktop apps.
2. Revitalizing one-on-one sales
We’ve become accustomed to the idea that innovations and new technology will either disrupt or eliminate more traditional methods, but the rise of tablets has breathed new life into a very old-school marketing strategy: the face-to-face, in-person sales pitch. With fully interactive tablet demos, sales reps are able to give a much more hip and informative presentation than the tacky flip-books and laminates they used before. And tablet credit card readers give sales reps the ability to strike while the iron is hot—with a smartphone credit card reader, they can accept payment on the spot, as soon as they’ve closed the deal.
3. Providing on-the-spot invoicing for contractors
Anyone who has ever done contract work knows that getting paid is a constant headache—especially if you do a lot of one-time projects like consulting or renovations. Getting both parties’ expectations in writing is essential, and until recently, it was difficult to get it all down on the spot in a legally-binding and credible way. A tablet with a solid online invoicing system allows contractors to define exactly what work they’re going to do, and what they expect in compensation. By lending the legal muscle of large financial institutions to small-scale transactions, tablets have made contract work safer for both providers and customers.
4. Putting the finishing touches on “just-in-time” production lines
Major corporations have had every element of their supply chains computerized for decades; but at the warehouse level, employees who spent all day on their feet were still stuck with manual inventory tracking—a single weak link in an otherwise extremely efficient system. Now, companies with vast supply chains like Microsoft and Wal-Mart have their workers equipped with tablets to monitor inventory and track shipments—so that executives know everything there is to know, as soon as it happens. These ultra-efficient supply chains lower the cost of inventory and enable expanded global reach with cheaper shipping.
5. Transforming point-of-sale
This may seem like a small thing, but small businesses like restaurants are able to save hundreds of dollars in work-hours every night by using tablet-based point-of-sale systems. When a server takes an order on a tablet, it’s available in the kitchen instantaneously—with no waiting for the server to complete his or her rounds. Then, when it’s time to pay, the server can swipe a credit card right at the table, saving the customer’s time, clearing the table quicker, and ultimately, allowing the restaurant to be more profitable on busy nights. By giving servers less walking and waiting to do, restaurants are able to serve more customers with a lighter crew, keeping costs lower and bringing in higher revenue.
Tara Wagner is a staff writer for TechBreach. She has worked from home for over a decade, and loves sharing news and advice with fellow telecommuting moms and dads. She’s fascinated by new tech and new ideas; and when she finds time to unplug, she enjoys long hikes in the mountains near her home. She lives in Denver.