Tablet Usage Trends
Read the full Spring 2012 issue.
Debuting as a slick device for entertainment and light tasks just two years ago, tablet usage was at first strictly consumer-based, destined to compete for market share with e-readers and consumer PCs. But mature broadband mobile communication and cloud technologies have enabled the tablet to evolve into a legitimate productivity tool that is reinventing business.
Some innovative business and enterprise applications offer a glimpse at the potential of tablets to change the way we work. Jonathan Marshall, CSC’s global portfolio director for end user services, explains that tablets have quickly taken a place alongside laptops and desktops. “The tablet has changed the way people think about meetings. You might want to jot a few notes or make a presentation. It doesn’t replace a laptop, but it does free you from having to take that everywhere,” Marshall says.
Rick Nunez, global mobility manager at CSC, says applications such as desktop virtualization offer users the ability to simplify and speed their daily work even more.
“Loading a virtual desktop app on a tablet reduces the number of devices I have to access, and now I have my full desktop workstation literally at my fingertips,” Nunez says. (See also: Managing the BYOD Revolution)
Tablet usage In the field
With mobile technologies and secure cloud access, tablets are spawning solutions in industry verticals that compress workflows.
“Let’s say I’m an insurance adjuster, going into the field with a tablet to record damage to a home after a storm,” Nunez says. “All the capabilities I need to record information pertinent to that case are in one device and one application. I can record notes directly to the case file on the database. I can take pictures with the tablet’s camera and store them in the case.”
Mobile connectivity means that everything the adjuster enters can be recorded to a master database in real time, eliminating the need to synchronize data later. “The reduction in cycle time is significant, and it’s important to the industry,” Nunez says.
On the shop floor
CSC has designed prototype applications that will give executives and managers real-time access to key performance measures via tablets.
“Mobile analytics is a big deal,” says Jim Petrassi, managing director of systems integration and development at CSC. “Line managers are constantly moving around, but they need to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the organization. Putting those measures on a tablet means they can see potential trouble spots and take fast action. They’re getting better data, in a timelier manner, which will help them make better decisions.”
Although similar solutions can be developed for smartphones, a tablet’s large, high-resolution display makes this type of dashboard application practical. “The best you can do on a smartphone [is to display] notifications and alerts,” Petrassi says. “On a tablet, you can display a large amount of visual data. And the cool thing is that it’s so easy to touch something and flip through it like a deck of paper.”
Coming soon: tablet trends in the making
The next few years promise even more work- and life-altering uses for tablets. Add-ins such as RFID chips and security measures like iris-scanning cameras will enable tablets to take on an even greater range of sensitive tasks, undoubtedly leading to new trends in tablet usage. “Having a chip in a tablet enables you to not only ID the device, but you also can control what it has access to, and that will open it to new uses,” Nunez says.
Petrassi envisions apps that combine context awareness and video to guide users through complicated tasks on the fly. “Imagine walking up to an unfamiliar piece of equipment, pointing your device at it, and seeing labels, instructions and videos popping up around it,” Petrassi says. “I think the era of video combined with augmented reality is fast approaching to deliver apps like that. It sounds a little far out, but it’s not as far as we think.”
DALE COYNER is a writer for CSC’s digital marketing team.