INSIGHT

Business Tablets: The Future of Flexible Working?

From opinion pieces to product launch coverage, any article about business tablets seems to be prefaced with a rather smug obituary for laptop computers. This isn’t a new phenomenon; in the aftermath of the launch of the very first iPad in 2010, numerous articles proclaimed that Apple’s new technology sounded the death knell for PCs and laptops in the consumer and business spheres.

In response, laptop manufacturers have been quick to embrace many of the features introduced by tablets, designing smaller, lighter hybrid devices that incorporate touch screens and styluses as standard. However, thanks to their portability, mobile network compatibility and instant access to thousands of apps, tablets have the ability to fulfil unique business needs in a way that laptops simply cannot. Whilst laptops might remain the norm for more
traditional office work, there’s a strong case for tablets becoming the first choice for small, innovative businesses.

The changing shape of retail

Perhaps the secret to making the most of tablets as a business isn’t down to the technology inside the device, but applying its advantages to an environment it’s ideally suited for. We’re already seeing how large chains are using tablets to deliver a more interactive, streamlined user experience in their flagship stores, but for small businesses like pop up shops and street food vendors, tablets can offer a whole host of other, more practical benefits too.

Contactless payments make small purchases a breeze for the consumer, and with a single tablet and a card reader, even the smallest pop up shop or food stand can now take full advantage of this technology. The reader connects to an app on the tablet that’s programmed with the entire inventory, sends the money directly to the business’ bank account and can even email the customer their receipt. The fact a transaction can now be completed with a few taps of a card reader and a tablet means that even the very smallest businesses have a fast, secure and simple way of processing payments, saving them time and improving their customers’ experience in a single stroke. The best news? The average contactless card reader costs less than £30.

All the apps a business could want

For a long time in the mid 2010s, it wasn’t the hardware or the ergonomics of tablets that held back their adoption in business, but the fact that the apps available to business users simply weren’t that useful. This has all changed however. From project management tools to accounting and HR, nearly every developer is producing a highly polished app version of their software, designed specifically for use on tablets or phones.

This means that even for those who don’t have a traditional office set-up, they can still benefit from all the latest software being created to help businesses thrive in a digital world. For example, the app version of a tool like Quickbooks allows you to instantly turn in expenses claims as you accrue them, simply by taking a photo of the receipt. Invoices can be generated for a customer as soon as a job is finished and small teams who work remotely can update each other on projects they’re working on in real time using apps like Monday. In short, a tablet can give small businesses mobile access to a whole world of time saving, productivity improving, team organising apps without ever having to sit down at a desk.

The Future of Mobile is 5G

Fundamentally, any piece of technology is only as good as the connection it has access to. An iPad Pro or a Samsung tablet are significantly less useful if they’re struggling along on 3G or an achingly slow WiFi connection. 4G’s speed and reliability has proved that mobile networks are more than capable of supporting those who work on the go, but the real game changer for the future of tablets and flexible working is likely to be 5G.

5G mobile broadband offers two key benefits for those working flexibly. Number one is perhaps unsurprisingly the sheer speed available; in London, the average download speed can be between 115 and 207mbps , depending on the provider. This kind of speed allows you to download a feature length film in seconds, but more importantly, a 5G network should prevent the kind of bottlenecks often experienced on 4G during busy periods like rush hour. Armed with a 5G enabled tablet and SIM card, it won’t just be individuals who feel the benefits that next generation mobile networks offer. Thanks to the bandwidth and speed readily available on a 5G network, some small businesses could quite happily rely on 5G as their primary source of connectivity, especially if they’re primarily working outside, from pop-up shops, or even going from client to client

Invest In Tech

Give yourself the best chance to succeed. It’s no good enabling flexible working only to find you’re gazing at frozen screens and loading donuts. After all, how can you take advantage of the latest in productivity-enhancing software if you can’t access it reliably? Businesses can effectively support flexible working ambitions by investing in the tech they provide their workforce, from up to date mobile handsets to superfast fibre broadband for home offices.

Tablets: Doing more with less

Small businesses are thriving thanks to technology and tablets are an invaluable tool in their arsenal. Packed with the latest hardware, compatible with 5G mobile networks and with easy access to thousands of productivity apps specific to almost every sector, tablets can streamline working processes and completely transform customer experience, all with minimal investment in physical technology.

From small retailers in pop up shops who now only need one device to handle entire transactions, to sole traders and entrepreneurs who can now reap the full benefit of next generation mobile networks, tablets will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the digital future of many small businesses.

Sources

‘The State of Mobile 5G in the United Kingdom’, https://www.speedtest.net/insights/blog/5g-united-kingdom-2019/

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