Tips for adding tablets to your business

By Laura Haight
Originally published in Upstate Business Journal as the Digital Maven 

You’ve added some tablets to your business, now what?

Often new technology brings with it a whole new set of problems. Does it work with your current applications? Do your peripherals - printers, monitors, etc - connect easily? Do you have a plan on how you want to use them and an implementation plan to help your staff hit the ground running - armed with their new devices in their briefcases?

Technology - even when it’s a good thing - can be disruptive but preparation and planning smooth the way.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Check compatibility of your integrated devices. The three words every IT person hates hearing are: plug and play. People (read this: your bosses) tend to think that plug and play refers to everything with a chip in it. Not true. In my personal opinion, plug and play was a great marketing slogan with very little real world application. So now most people have a laptop or a desktop, a smartphone and a tablet. But they’ve also got a keyboard, a headset, a mouse. Long-form typing on a tablet is difficult so most users will probably want an external keyboard.

Declutter your staffs’ work environment by eliminating single-system devices. Buy multifunction wireless keyboards and mice that will work with your desktop, laptop and tablet. Devices - such as Logitech’s K760 Keyboard and and T630 mouse - connect to all your devices at the same time and switch between them with a simple key press or switch.

2. Beyond Office. Make the most of your tablet investment by not tying it down to legacy apps. Yes, you can get Microsoft Office apps on your tablet - to a degree - but you are far better choosing a mobile-designed application set that will integrate with the DATA you already have, not the applications you use.

Thinking of a tablet as a smaller lighter laptop will keep you inside a legacy tool box. Get out!

Apps for securely signing documents like Docusign Ink or Adobe’s EchoSign let you close the deal on the go; CRM apps that link to services both huge (Salesforce) and accessible (Zoho) let you keep track of every touch point with a client or prospect based on your mobile activities, and email apps that let you structure your mail into actionable buckets (part of the Getting Things Done -GTD- process) are just a few ways that apps can do a lot more than the desktop.

Mobile apps are often streamlined and less complex than their desk-or-laptop counterparts so they make it easier to do what you need to do with the fewest steps possible. Functions your mobile warriors may have never used because they were hard to find, may be literally right at their fingertips now.

3. Training. The most common mistake we always make with technology is - once again - related to those three nasty little words: plug and play. Walk around and watch your employees work and - in many cases - you will see them doing things the same way they did them 10 years or more ago. Despite bigger and bigger investments in technology, our computing habits often don’t change that much. That’s because we don’t put training time and money into implementations, which often means you don’t get the ROI you expect from new tech rollouts.

Don’t make that mistake with mobile. If you don’t have your own IT department, invest in someone to come in and train your staff. In fact, even if you do have IT, you may still want a third party to come in and bridge the gap between tech and business. You need someone who can translate the language of the geek into something your staff can understand.

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