I want to share two anecdotal stories around how I came to understand that tablets, driven by the iPad, are not just consumer devices that let my 3 year old play Angry Birds, but rather are finding their way into the enterprise and the small business eco-system.
My 3 year old daughter goes to a local Montessori school here in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, where I live. The school is pretty well funded and is run by a very progressive individual. This summer, instead of having a paper and pen to check in and check out kids, they had a Dell Tablet – with an app – to check in and check out the kids. I figured – “Huh. Cool!” So now they can digitally track who is in school and who is out. A few things jumped out to me:
a) The school can now give me the exact date/time when kids are checking in and checking out.
b) The tablet itself is portable – so as parents are picking up the kids, the teachers hand over the tablets to the parents right in their cars.
c) Multiple tablets can be used in parallel.
All this was achieved with 3 or 4 simple Android-powered Dell Tablets. No custom hardware or software. Well ok – someone had to write a custom app for Montessori checkin/checkout with a 4 digit pin et al. Being a geek myself, I can see writing an app like that not being a particularly daunting task.
Here is the punch-line: they can now (and they did) automatically bill me for late pickups! It’s all recorded!
iPads in Hotels
I was in Florida for a business meeting and was staying in a mid-market hotel in Tallahassee. They used an iPad for self-service check-in and checkout. No need to stand in line. They outfitted 3 iPads kiosk-style and had a custom app to focus the user experience. Being the geek, I played around with it. It did it’s job. Now compare that to the cost/structure involved with putting in dedicated consumer-facing devices – for example, the airline self-checkin systems. These are not cheap – but the mid-market hotel chain using low cost/commodity hardware and software was able to deliver the same user experience and efficiency that airlines deliver after spending millions on their Diebold systems.
Both these experiences have had me thinking about the tablet as something much more than just a entertainment device for the consumer.
How have you seen tablet devices used in the enterprise space? We’d love to hear more examples. Post your comments here, or send them out on Twitter (@researchaccess).