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How to choose the right tablet for your business needs

by Patrick Smith

May 1 2012

Patrick Smith is a senior digital strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an integrated marketing services agency in Wisconsin.


Patrick Smith: Among his tips: "Pilot, pilot, pilot."

With the right discovery work, tablet deployment decisions can be based on strategy rather than employee hype. It’s difficult, though. With the recent “consumerization of IT decisions” trend, it’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of new product excitement.

But when deploying new technology at your organization, move away from emotional decisions to identify key requirements and find the best solutions to meet them. If you don’t properly vet your ideas, you could end up with a costly investment that doesn’t pay off.

At my integrated marketing services agency, discovery work is a three-step process that helps prove or disprove any emotional perceptions so we can develop a sound mobile strategy for our clients. Interviews kick off the discovery, with Phase 1 focused on understanding the work environment, needs and activities, while also noting the users’ comfort level with technology.

In Phase 2, we float ideas past potential users to get honest feedback. These ideas go beyond the hardware. We look at the entire ecosystem, which involves hardware, software, content, connectivity and support.

In Phase 3, we deploy the full ecosystem to a small, pilot group of users to:

  • Validate that we’re implementing a valuable ecosystem
  • Make any adjustments to our custom applications/software
  • Ensure the device withstands the rigors of their workday
  • Perfect our training methods

After these phases are successfully completed, we feel more confident about our decisions. The following are actual client examples that illustrate how discovery work influences mobile strategy and why it’s essential for creating the right solutions:

1. Choose the right device

What started as a conversation about giving smartphones to key consultants for an agriculture chemical client became a bigger conversation about what the consultants really needed — a better way to remotely access reference materials. After evaluating a number of devices, we recommended iPad devices loaded with a custom application featuring regularly updated product labels, pest identification guides and more.

2. Ensure good content is the focus

Understand that the device is just the vessel. Building interactive content that leveraged the device’s interactive capabilities was a focus when creating the sales enablement tool for an agriculture client. We created a platform that supports and enhances a live sales conversation. Thorough discovery work led to a better return on requirements.

3. Pilot, pilot, pilot

Often, enterprise-grade physical equipment and software is needed to withstand the rigors of an eight-hour-plus workday. To streamline the way our own marketing associates work, we provided our most mobile associates with a Windows-based slate--the Samsung Series 7 Slate.

The pilot was a smashing success (nobody wanted to give up their device even after the pilot ended), except for one thing — a multitude of hardware failures. Without the pilot, we may not have discovered these issues until after making a much larger capital purchase.  

Take the time to complete discovery work so you’re making an informed, lasting decision based on the needs of the users and not on the excitement of tech-savvy (and not-so-tech-savvy) employees. Embrace this passion and then be diligent in the assessment and roll-out.

Patrick Smith is a senior digital strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an integrated marketing services agency in Wisconsin.
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