Thanks to IT consumerization and BYOD, tablets are becoming more common in the workplace. Some industries are evolving more rapidly than others, however.
TabTimes examined seven areas of business where tablets are having a tremendous effect, and four others which have yet to fully embrace tablets in the workplace. Let's take a look at how tablets are being used, and by which business people.
Retail and sales
This much is obvious; sales members, those in the store or out in the field, benefit from having a mobile device they can use to complete transactions or check inventory. The tablet fits that bill perfectly, with the extra screen estate (compared to an iPhone, say) allowing retailers to promote their products in the best possible way.
Plus, with heavyweights like Square and point-of-sale provider VeriFone backing T-commerce, and with the ever increasing possibility of near-field-communication (NFC) chips coming to tablets for device-to-device payments, it's clear the newly-coined term of 'T-commerce' is here to stay.
As a sector, education is widely believed to be slow on adopting new technologies, but in truth this is more often down to restricted budgets. With that in mind, it is worth noting just how many schools and universities have already taken to tablets, with most of these either funded directly by the school or in-part by parents.
TabTimes has seen a number of studies recently which illustrate the learning advantages that the tablet can bring. And with the likes of Apple, Samsung and Kno – a digital textbooks provider – all looking to push affordable digital textbooks into education, it is fair to say that tablets is becoming the one device for students to take notes, read textbooks and create and submit schoolwork.
What's truly tantalizing about education is what happens after we break through the digital textbook barrier. Will schools and teachers find new ways to improve lectures? To assign and check homework? To give tests? To allow student to collaborate?
When you consider that touch screens and first-generation Windows tablets have been in hospitals for decades, it's not surprising that healthcare is another very prominent area when it comes to large-scale tablet deployments. TabTimes has even heard of one pharmaceutical company deploying as many as 500,000 iPads in one shot.
Healthcare professionals seem intent on using iPads and tablets, from surgeons and doctors to nurses and even mental health staff. Doctors, in particular, seem to be bringing their tablets to work so that they can liaise with patients and check-up on certain drugs or conditions.
Legal and political
Tablets are slowly seeping into the professional lives of both lawyers and politicians. TabTimes is seeing an increasing number of deployments (or rather, often through BYOD schemes) for lawyers to use tablets in the courtroom, while politicians are also feverishly getting in on the act.
Recently the British Parliament has been active in pushing through plans for the tablets to be used in the governing chamber, in committees and even for the tablets to be included in MPs’ allowance. Even tablet voting appears to be nearing reality.
Both lawyers and politicians are using the iPad (and other tablets) for taking and revisiting notes - saving paperwork in the process - while some lawyers are even using tablets to show evidence to the court.
As an industry, its linked to retail and sales, but there's no doubting that tablets can help estate agents from everything from arranging and keeping track of house visits to liaising with home owners and tempting interested buyers with interactive floor plans.
Furthermore, the tablet is a fantastic selling tool, which real estate firms and individual agents are taking advantage of. Consider this: Realtor.com's app in the iTunes marketplace has over 21,000 user ratings. Most of them are favorable.
Calling the NFL, NBA, and pro soccer "industries" feels like a bit of an overstatement, but professional sports teams around the world have discovered that iPads and other tablets are ideal devices for containing playbooks, reviewing game footage, and more.
Aviation: Pilots, cabin crew and passengers
From the cockpit, to cabin crew and even for in-flight entertainment, tablets can now be found thousands of feet up in the air, aboard both commercial and even military aircraft. Deployments have been split between big brands like American Airlines and British Airways, to invariably smaller crews. The number of units seems to be ranging from the very small to thousands at a time.
The iPad certainly doesn’t appear to hold a monopoly in terms of tablet device, with Samsung Galaxy Tabs and other tablets are being adopted.
Tablets are also being used by cabin crew to register flyers, and track food and entertainment orders, while pilots are using tablets to help with navigation and replace technical manuals and paper charts.
Media and marketing
Tablets are already having a massive impact on the world of publishers. That includes both publishing for content and on-screen advertisements.
For content, publishers have found a new revenue stream in the form of an iPad or Android app, which also represent another way in which to expand their coverage to the masses. What makes the news even better is that the editorial process for journalists hasn't changed much.
Tablets are not just a great way for journalists to keep on top of stories using productivity-enhancing apps like Evernote or Dropbox. They are also a great way to expand coverage and reputation worldwide.
Beyond the written word, tablets are also giving digital agencies the opportunity to create rich, multimedia HTML5 advertisements. While tablet-specific standards have been slow to emerge, the good news is that tablet owners appear to be more willing to interact with these ads.
And research already suggests that tablet readers are more willing to put up with them as well, and even to buy directly from the advertisement itself.
...And 4 industries tablets are changing more slowly
Tablet deployment is more prevalent in some industries and for some professionals than others, but is also worth looking at sectors where tablet usage might be important in the future. So let's look at four professional categories where tablet usage has yet to be fully realized, but could become important further down the road.
There is no doubt that tablets are making their way onto construction sites – and we’ve seen some evidence of that already, but it is more of a question of ‘how many?’
In the field, tablets have to be ruggedized and protected from water and dust ingress. While these kinds of tablets and protection are available, adoption has been surprisingly slow for now. Big companies have been slow to respond, and smaller firms don't have the wherewithal.
This will change over time as more and more IT administrators begin to understand not just how and why tablets can save time and money, but what the most effective means of deployment might be.
There’s been some uptake of tablets in the military fold, but the form-factor isn’t directly on the radar of IT managers in the military. Ruggedized smartphones and first-generation Windows tablets are already in the hands of soldiers and generals, but this is just the beginning.
That said, Dell’s Streak 5 is now approved to be used by the US army.
Aside from glitzy music videos or lavish award ceremonies, tablets haven’t really made their way into the music industry. We’ve not really heard of too many professional music producers using tablets to aid their workflow, which is a shame given the number of great apps out there for music production on an iPad, for instance.
Police and emergency services
There is an opportunity for tablets to be used on a daily basis by police and emergency services, but that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.
TabTimes has heard reports of tablets being used in ambulances in the UK, and this is certainly one area the devices could be effectively utilized to transmit data and medical details to on-site doctors before a vehicle arrives at the hospital.
Police, too, should be able to take advantage of Apple's iPad, among others, for filling out charges, or for quick checks to be carried out by the mobile policeman.
Chime in: Has your job been transformed by the ability to use a tablet at work? Or do you have an interesting story to tell of how tablets positively or negatively affected your day-to-day work ? Let us know in the comment section below.