Mobile computing is the ideal way to stay connected and get things done efficiently and conveniently. The astronomical growth in smart phones over the last ten years is just one example of how mobile computing has changed the face of business, the face of healthcare and even the face of how we communicate with our friends and family using Facebook. However, mobile computing is still in its infancy and only recently through the introduction of new systems (Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for example) and new hardware (improved Laptops, smart phones and the new Tablet computers is the potential for a completely mobile workplace, classroom and hospital becoming a reality.
At first glance the idea of a mobile workplace seems preposterous. Why on Earth would anyone want to have their work with them where ever they go? This is looking at the cookie jar as half full; if the cookies can get to you and interrupt you on your weekend you can also utilize the cookies to make your business more efficient, your classroom experience more convenient and your patients healthier. Let me take a minute to demonstrate what is happening on the ground right now thanks to mobile computing.
Lets assume you have a business that makes and sells medical equipment. Your products incorporate components from five thousand different overseas manufactures. All of your products are then carefully constructed and assembled onsite in New York. Thanks to a sophisticated ERP system and mobile computing you are able to track every portion of product development and sales to the point that when a batch of faulty products are incorporated into your stethoscopes this can be tracked down almost instantly to which part from which manufacture in Asia is at fault. The system can quickly estimate the cost of recall and facilitate customer relations. New product developments are incorporated seamlessly; new markets are easily conquered using Laptops and existing supply chain relationships. Sound too good to be true? This company is American Diagnostic Corporation (ADC). In business since only 1984, ADC is already a dominant player in the world medical equipment market. Their CEO, Marc Blitstein attributes his company’s remarkable growth to his computer systems. However, what is most extraordinary about ADC isn’t so much the computers as it is the new mobile, global way of thinking that mobile computing has fostered in this company’s culture.
Picture a US soldier lying in 110-degree heat in Afghanistan. He’s using his military educational benefits to go to college for free when he’s not on patrol dodging bullets. He pulls out his Laptop, puts on a pair of earphones and connects to his classroom. In two year’s time he’ll be out of the Service and looking for a job as a website developer. In the meantime his Laptop provides him with everything from education to entertainment. War has always been hours and hours of boredom interspersed with brief bursts of panic. Thanks to mobile computing soldiers now have productive ways to use lots of their free time.
Doctors and nurses dread charting and record keeping. Today life is made a little easier thanks to Laptop computers and accurate voice recognition software. A physician is able to easily take all her records with her wherever she needs to be. This keeps patient’s histories and charts at her fingertips and allows the doctor to see patients throughout a single hospital or in multiple locations. X-rays and all sorts of other diagnostic tests come into her system instantly for review. Best of all, the doctor is able to make productive use out of her commute time on the train and now spends more time with her family.
Despite the advances and the wonders of today’s mobile computing the Laptop is still an infant with an umbilical cord attached. Like a baby, a Laptop is unwieldy and a bit heavy. My grandmother used to say that all babies weigh 20 pounds-either in baby or baby necessities- and the same is true of a Laptop computer. Tablet computers on the other hand weigh on average 1.5 pounds. The new iPad 2 has even eliminated the need for a case with a sleek collapsible cover that not only protects the screen but also turns the computer on and off. Tablets have intuitive interfaces that use your hands in the way evolution designed them to be used. Gone is the awkward keyboard descendent of the manual typewriter. If you still want to use a physical keyboard and a mouse you can easily attach them wirelessly to any Tablet. However, why not use one of the free voice recognition applications instead? Writing and editing on the virtual keyboard is also easy.
Where Tablets already excel and will supersede Laptops is in battery life (7-10 hours of continuous use) and applications making Tablets truly mobile where Laptops have really only ever mastered half mobile. Tablets have already taken the marketing world by storm. Any good salesman knows he only has five seconds to grab a customer’s attention. Those five seconds equal the time it takes to turn the average Laptop on and that is why they have never been used extensively in sales. Not so with Tablets. Without question the largest group of early Tablet adopters have been marketing departments. The Tablet difference is subtle but huge, and that difference is making serious changes in sales departments throughout the country.
The enviable Tablet battery life translates into a real mobile device. The boundless Internet connectivity that is available with a Tablet computer, in addition to all the applications that are available, creates a remarkable, unique device. Unlike a phone, the Tablet screen is large enough to comfortably surf the Internet, organize a slideshow, have a conference call, view a patient’s chart or edit a movie. Hook your Tablet up to Cloud and you have endless amounts of offsite storage that will allow you to sync your other computer devices including your cell phone and your computer at work with your Tablet. Using your Tablet you have access to thousands of books, periodicals and movies in addition to everything available on the World Wide Web. Attach it to a docking station and you can easily give a presentation or a lecture to a room full of people.
Won’t my Laptop do all that? Well not exactly. Lets look at why not. Lets say you are planning a golf date with an old friend. Before leaving work you either dial your cell phone to call your friend- or you use your Tablet for a quick conference call to tell him that you are on your way. You get in the car and need directions to the golf course. You either attach your Garmin GPS for directions- or you touch your Tablet and it tells you not only directions but also up to the minute traffic conditions to your destination before you start driving. The directions come complete with suggested alternative routes for avoiding traffic delays. On the golf course you either get out your Greensmeter to measure the slope- or you open the application for that on your Tablet computer. While golfing, you have a medical diagnostic test come in that makes it clear to you that there is a medical emergency with one of your patients. Using the Tablet you take a few minutes out of your golf game to video conference with the doctor at the hospital. Based on his demeanor you are sure things will be done correctly and you can return to your golf game. Your Tablet has just replaced at least four devices and saved your one free afternoon this month. The question isn’t: Do I need a Tablet? It’s where do I get one?
The best reason to make the transition from a Laptop to a Tablet device is the increased customization a Tablet computer can offer you. A film student’s Tablet will look and work remarkably different than a doctor’s Tablet or a businessman’s Tablet. Tablet software is very different from the generic sets of applications that we are all familiar with on a Laptop or Desktop computer. Instead of automatically installing all the things the hardware company thinks you might want Tablet devices come with the bare essentials. Rather than installing enormous complete programs Tablet owners can download applications as they need and want them. Apple iPads use a closed system so this is a simple download but in the case of Tablet PCs owners can use a combination of application downloads and further customization to achieve exactly what they want. Used in conjunction with Cloud for storage and more complex Cloud based business systems Tablet PC owners can run most sections of a small to mid-sized business using their Tablet devices. For the first time a completely mobile workforce is a reality. In this brave new world the Tablet is more of a portal used to access a much more powerful system of services than it is just a PC computer.
Soon Tablets will have as much memory and computing power as the average Laptop and with the increased popularity of Cloud and pay per service models in services like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Tablets will soon overtake the PC hardware landscape. This is already the arena where all the best and brightest minds are writing programs. The question is how are you and your company going to manage the Tablet transition? Current IT departments aren’t properly equipped to deal with most of the questions surrounding important Tablet issues like Security, Compatibility and Cloud. How do you figure out which of the thousands of apps meet your needs and which apps really work the best? What kind of training will your workforce need? In order to adapt to Tablets effectively and make the most out of the incredible potential of these machines you need the advice of consultants that specialize in the transition from Laptops to Tablet Devices.
Mobile computing is here to stay and in the very near future Tablets will transform the half mobile world of the Laptop into the fully mobile and integrated world of the Tablet computer. This is a new way of thinking as much as it is a new way of learning and living. TabletTopics.com is here to help you and your company with this transition.
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~Article crafted by Lisa Pluth for TabletTopics