Seeing as tablet computers have only been on the market for a couple years now it makes sense many of us are still struggling to come to terms with what, exactly, we should use these new mobile devices for.
Sure, we all know that tablets are really great for absorbing media (for browsing the web, reading blogs, looking at pictures and watching videos) but many of us continue to wonder whether tablets can actually hold their own as the productivity powerhouses they purport to be.
Let’s take a minute to consider whether you really can use a tablet as a useful business tool or whether these innovative creations only offer benefits to the casual user.
Traditional vs Touch-Screen Keyboard
First of all, we need to directly address the concerns many business-oriented individuals have when it comes to taking the plunge and purchasing a tablet for their enterprise-class activities.
The primary problem people have with using a tablet for business purposes is the fact tablets don’t have a keyboard. This sounds like a small thing at first, but it doesn’t take long before you realize just how important a good keyboard is for any sort of “real work.”
Trying to send an email longer than two lines through a tablet’s touchscreen might be better than trying to handle the delusion of communications flowing into your inbox via your smartphone, but touchscreen-keyboards still pale in comparison to traditional material keyboards.
Writing long emails, performing any action in word, and even utilizing spreadsheet software like Excel just plain works better using a real keyboard compared with a tablet’s digital equivalent.
That being said, all is not lost when it comes to typing-based productivity on your tablet. Among all the hand-wringing and nay-saying it’s important to remember that you can buy a peripheral keyboard that will plug into any tablet you might want to buy, and some of the more involved examples of these accessories will transform your tablet into a full-fledged laptop.
In other words- the main issue people have with tablets is really a non-issue if you’re willing to invest in this low-cost, completely effective solution.
With that major concern cleared out of the way, we can comfortably explore the major benefits tablets have to offer the business-class.
First, tablets are extremely portable. Yes, laptops are getting smaller and smaller, but the average tablet is still much easier to cart around than the MacBook Air or an Ultrabook.
Tablets were designed from the ground up with portability in mind and this quality really delivers. Considering the fact most business now occurs remotely or on-the-go, the highly portable nature of tablets can not be overstated.
A side benefit attached to tablets’ mobile design is the fact these devices can be used in an extremely flexible variety of situations. Even the smallest laptop can basically only be used one way- sitting flat on a table or on your lap while everyone else crowds around you.
Tablets can stand up, they can sit down, you can lay a tablet flat and you can pass one of these mobile devices around much quicker and easier than you could ever make sure everyone at your meeting gets a look at your laptop’s screen.
The ability to lay flat is one of the tablet’s “killer apps,” even if it’s a quality whose importance is easy to overlook until you take advantage of it. Laying a tablet flat on a table provides a much, much, much more personal and intimate experience than placing a screen between you and your business partners or prospective clients.
Business is becoming more and more personal, in both obvious and hidden ways, and one of those “hidden ways” is the reduction of physical clutter standing between you and those you engage with, as provided by a tablet’s unique design.
Now, some proponents of using tablets for business purposes point to the ability to produce handwritten notes on a tablet through the use of a stylus- notes that convert your handwriting to digital files which you can produce and share with others in a much more natural and intuitive manner than entries typed into TextEdit. This is a cool function but it may not be the trump card some tablet enthusiasts would like, mostly because the technology isn’t quite “there” yet.
Instead of jumping on the stylus bandwagon it’s wiser to look at what we know tablets already do well, which is provide multimedia support, a function providing a lot of benefits to any business environment.
Easily readable charts, graphs and spreadsheets. Gorgeous presentations that can be shared among devices. Amazing videos and images you can show your clients in HD. Even if tablets are primarily designed for media consumption it’s important to realize just how crucial multimedia is becoming within the modern business environment.
At just a couple years old tablet technology may not have been perfected yet, but it still provides a wealth of benefits you can put to good use within your own business environment.