Just before speaking at the TABLET STRATEGY West conference Wednesday, Cassie Maas put her iPad to work. Maas, a Realtor with Alain Pinel Realtors in Silicon Valley, came armed with an iPad loaded with an array of real estate-specific apps and general productivity tools, that let her file a house sale document in the parking lot just outside the conference.
Maas' arsenal of real estate apps was a concrete example of one of the themes of this first TabTimes TABLET STRATEGY West conference: The fast proliferation of tablet apps mirrors the previous explosion of the smartphone ecosystem. On the tablet, just like on the phone, there's an app for that.
Tablet's prevalence in medical facllities' has provided a better way for Intuitive Surgical to distribute its extensive video assets, while offering the ability to track usage. The company has found that the average engagement time is 20 minutes, according to Chris Simmonds, senior director of marketing services, who also spoke at the event.
Customers are also using their tablets in ways unforeseen by software makers. The value proposition of ionGrid (purchased by NetApp earlier this month) is the ability to access business documents and applications securely on mobile devices.
But when Hurricane Sandy struck, utility workers scrambling to get the lights back on without getting electrocuted in the process drew heavily on the company's Stratos product, which specifically sends docs and applications from laptop to iPad. The smaller iPad hanging from their tool belts was a better bet than fumbling with a laptop on the top of a utility pole.
One of the most important issues in using tablets in the field is the ability to get at least some access to content and applications when the device is offline (for example, at the top of a utility pole).
Rafe Needleman, platform advocate for Evernote, said his company has found that as people come to rely on the software, they want to use it on more devices. "If you have a tablet app and want to increase usage, make a phone version or PC version," he told the conference audience.
Tablets and sales
Tablets, stuffed with information and alive with graphics, are well-suited to salespeople, according to Joe Gustafson, CEO of Brainshark. "Salespeople are notorious just-in-time learners. iPads let them get smart just before they walk into the meeting," he said.
While the iPad seems to be the tablet of choice in the enterprise at this point, Nick Triantos, CEO of ionGrid, said it's important that companies offer employees a choice of platform. He concluded, "Companies that embrace the challenges of multiple operating systems will find their employees are more creative, because they're working in the way they want to."
The next Tablet Strategy conference is set for April 30 in New York City.