One of the best use cases for tablets in the workplace is efficient, rich, paper-free annotation.
In the work world, we have typically thought of annotation as a feature of office productivity suites (think “track-changes” in Microsoft Word), used mostly by lawyers.
Or, we don’t think of it at all – we just print reams of paper and get to work with the red pen, channeling our inner schoolmarm in order to provide edits for our teammates, bosses, employees or even ourselves. Effective maybe, but a version-control nightmare at best and back pain at worst (when you bring your work home with you).
Ask yourself this: how much time do you spend editing other people’s content vs. creating content? If you are a manager, it might be the majority of your time – which means a tablet could save you a lot of time.
There is a whole raft of new apps devoted to marking things up. One of my favorite mark-up apps is a full-featured PDF app called PDF Expert. With PDF Expert, you can put boxes, arrows, stamps, highlights, underlines, notes, signatures or free-hand drawings all over any PDF, and then email the marked-up document with a couple of clicks.
Even better, though, you can choose to email the document with an Annotation Summary in the body of the email automagically, making it super simple for the recipient to see your suggested changes at a glance. No more sticky-flags and stacks of paper.
If you need to mark-up photos, web-pages or Google Maps, you should try Skitch for iPad. Skitch makes it super simple to add mark-ups to any type of image, and then easily allows you to save it to Evernote, email it or Tweet it. You can even use AirPlay and an AppleTV to do real-time mark-up on a big screen.
While annotation on a tablet saves time and trees, business value really comes if you take it one step further. You can use a document management and collaboration platform in the cloud—like Alfresco, the company I work for—to collaborate on content and store our corporate documents.
You might be surprised by how much you annotate vs. create. If you find yourself going through red pens and highlighters and stacks of paper, it’s time to do yourself a favor and get a tablet and a few key apps. Your team (and your back), will appreciate it, too.