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The Tablet – The 3rd Screen of Business

November 18, 2010

The Tablet we see before us today is not a new idea. I can only imagine how Microsoft founder Bill Gates must have been shaking his head in frustration when Apple announced their recent foray into the tablet realm, as he had taken steps here before, in fact many years before. One could argue he was ahead of his time, again, but the technology & operating systems of the time weren’t there quite there yet. Whatever the argument around who did what and when, is mute, due to the impact the tablet is now having on mobile today.

Until the iPad appeared, tablets where a niche play for particular industries such as medical & retail. The Apple iPad made the tablet cool again, but more importantly, besides being a geeky entertainment gadget, it has made tablets a real business tool.

Whilst the iPad has a lot of limitations as a business device, the user experience is exceptional. A positive user experience will obliterate the other limitations to insignificance. Many IT managers today are having to integrate tablets into their networks due to senior management demanding it. The accelerated integration is creating a perfect storm around both tablet development in hardware and software . The tablet market is exploding with many tablet variants appearing from different hardware manufacturers, all trying to stake their claim. This high level of competition is a boon for the buyer, as it is driving prices down, but increasing functionality and choice.

The tablet is becoming entrenched within the mobile ecosystem as the 3rd screen of productivity & interaction especially in business. Again, whilst the iPad fails miserably at being a business grade collaborative device within the enterprise, this has not stopped people bringing it within their businesses and using it on a daily basis.

The tablet fills a void that has been missing between the mobile & the desktop/laptop very nicely. That void has been a mobile device that gives functionality to transient business tasks with a capable interface for accessing and managing information without the bulk and complexity of a laptop system.

The desktop PC is the dedicated task system with rich interfaces and powerful processing capability. It is a fixed office based system that allows portability through the laptop variant. Whilst the laptop cannot match a desktop cost effectively in overall functionality, it has become the desktop replacement in many organisations.

The mobile is all about multitasking in motion, doing multiple things at the same time, like walking down a street and reading headlines of emails or it narrating navigation directions whilst you are driving in a car. The small screen and limited input interface impact how much we can interact with a mobile, but mobile software and services are designed with this in mind making this the ultimate on the go system.

The tablet has become the hybrid to both mobile & desktop. Giving us a rich & intuitive interface for accessing and managing data with efficient portability that makes it the perfect companion when you are in-between either being out of the office or utilisng a  dedicated desktop environment. Meetings are an example of how the tablet empowers the business user to access information easily, but enable data input without dragging around a laptop.

Businesses should be looking at how the tablet will increase productivity and become an integral part of their device matrix for employees. Internal IT Systems need to be designed around a task orientated architecture for mobile and tablets as they are for desktop systems. External communication systems to customers must take into account that customers may utilise tablets to view websites as well as interact with online business services.

The tablet is not a fad, it’s here to stay, so understand its potential and leverage it as an asset.

Posted By Shane Williamson

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