5 Ways Tablets Are Changing How We Do Business

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.

Game-Changers that Your Small Business Can’t Afford to Miss

Innovations to watch in the next year

Even in a challenging economy, small business ownership has never been more exciting: the technology and organizational resources available to small business owners is unmatched in history, giving them the ability to reach a global audience and compete with heavy hitters. Here are a few of the biggest innovations that will change the way your small business operates in 2013.

1. Cloud-based storage and team management

Especially if you have remote workers, you can’t afford to integrate your business via email attachment: duplicated effort, miscommunication, and scheduling conflicts are inevitable. You can seriously tighten up your operation by sharing files, schedules, and goals in the cloud.

If you’re looking for stress-free, small-scale cloud storage, Dropbox is the obvious choice, with a simple drag-and-drop interface and automatic syncing. However, if 2 GB of free storage doesn’t sound like much room to you, you might want to look elsewhere; Dropbox’s paid plans aren’t cheap. If you’re comfortable with a slightly less user-friendly interface, Google Drive is your best bet.

2. VoIP service

Internal calls can be a serious waste of money, especially if you have mobile workers or telecommuters reporting in frequently. Get all your employees signed up for Skype Mobile or a similar VoIP provider, so all your internal calls are free.

Video teleconferencing also makes it easier to hire and manage remote workers, which gives your business the freedom to hire from a much broader talent pool. One-on-one video chat is generally free, while video conferencing goes for about $5 a month.

3. Mobile payment

If you do any face-to-face business, you can’t afford to stay cash-only. Not only does accepting credit cards demonstrate professionalism and security, but it also allows you to strike while the iron is hot with your customers, instead of waiting for them to run to an ATM or dig up a checkbook.

Most mobile credit card processing services will send you a card reader and mobile app free with your merchant account, and then simply deduct their processing fee (around 2.75%) from the sale price. Giving your team the green light to accept secure payments on-site will increase your sales and reduce customer headaches.

4. Cheap tablet computers

If you do any kind of pitch for clients or prospective customers, a brief interactive Prezi on a tablet can do wonders to impress and persuade. A presentation that your customers can actually play around with and flip through themselves puts forth an air of professionalism and authority—and with less expensive tablets finally falling below $100, it’s a tool you might be able to provide for your entire team.

Tablets are also a solid medium for delivering invoices and estimates, taking inventory, or filling out requests and applications—you no longer risk misplacing loose papers, and you can post information directly to your database without a data-entry middleman.

 

Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.