There are so many tablets on the market today; it is hard to keep track of them. According to the best selling tablets are the Kindle Fire at number one, then comes the Coby Kyros, HP Touchpad, Samsung Galaxy (3 models), ASUS Transformer Prime, Android VIA8650, Blackberry Playbook, Lenova K1 Ideapad, and the list goes on. And then of course there is the iPad.

Consumers are using tablets for emails, checking on the news, social networking, gaming, reading books and watching videos. But, how are businesses using tablets? Just as the notebooks have replaced the PC, we can expect the tablet to replace the notebook, as they are smaller and lighter.

The tablet is a boon for salespeople, as they can use their tablet to have customers sign up to receive communications from them or their company, sending customer’s information directly to the marketing database. Hard copy documents will no longer be needed. The salesperson can fill out an order form on the tablet; have the customer sign it; and send the order directly to the order department all while sitting across from the customer.

When the customer asks for a status report on his orders, the salesperson can pull up that information in real time. Should the customer have a question on the operation of one of a company’s products, the Operations Manual will be at the salesperson’s fingertips in seconds. If the customer has a tablet, the customer could use the company’s app to look up information related to their account, as well as marketing images, PDF’s and video, all with just a touch of their finger.

Have a new product coming out? Use the tablet to make a presentation rather than cue cards, or connect the tablet to a mini-projector for an intimate large screen presentation. The tablet is more friendly than a notebook and can be handed easily to the customer for a closer look. The larger screen is easier on the eyes than the old Blackberries.

Information can be sent securely with a tablet, which is a plus for I.T. security personnel. Delivery people can have customer’s sign for deliveries and skip the paper process, just like UPS and FedEx does.

A business owner can benefit by eliminating hard wired office computers, or expensive laptops. A tablet costs about half of what a laptop costs, and by using a cloud utility, the tablet would be in-sync with other computers. Time could be saved by using a tablet for training rather than bringing the sales team in from the field for training, enabling the salesperson to train at that person’s own pace.

We will see more use of the tablet in medical environments, as the laws are changed, requiring medical records to be computerized. The family doctor will no longer need to go through thick patient files to obtain prescription information and past treatments or labs. The doctor can enter a patient’s name into a tablet and with a touch of a finger pull up organized records, which will assist the doctor to treat a patient with fewer mistakes. All of his scheduled appointments will be available on his tablet, listing the reasons for his patients’ visit.

In hospitals, doctors will be able to view medical images such as x-rays and magnetoresonance imaging (MRI) scans without chasing around to find the original scans. Instead of a clipboard attached to a patient’s bed for anyone to see, attending doctors and nurses can view a patient’s progress through their tablet while keeping patient information private.

Using a tablet at home or in an office, a doctor can pull up his patient’s vitals, meds, and nurse’s notes without running to the hospital. Medscape has a medical app for medical information, allowing medical professionals to check available drugs, disease references, procedure videos and drug interactions, making patient care safer and more accurate.

Arbor medical tablet

Medical calculators are available to check problems such as corrected serum calcium, FeNa, GFR, transtubular K gradient, Daugirdas for hemodialysis, pregnancy wheel, and more.

In the waiting room, a new patient can use a tablet that prompts patients to type their name, and then answer a series of multiple-choice questions about their history and presenting problem. When patients finish, a report is automatically sent to the doctor for his review before seeing the patient. In the next few years the tablet will become an integral part of medicine.

Big Pharma won’t be left out as companies, such as Abbott and Medtronic, have already integrated the iPad into their sales forces. At a time when pharmaceutical companies are competing to capture physician interest and access, the iPad creates a new way to detail products on a device physicians are eager to use.

As physicians use tablets more frequently on the job, they’ll be receptive to apps that make their jobs easier, more efficient, and more accurate. Alivecor unveiled its ECG app, which turns an iPad into an electrocardiogram device. Physicians can measure a heartbeat by simply pressing the iPad against a patient’s chest. Is the Tricorder coming next?

Ever attend a deposition? The lawyers roll in boxes of papers, covering every aspect of the case at hand. At deposition, a witness is shown copies of and asked questions about documents. Unlike laptops or projectors, tablets are extremely portable and easier for witnesses to handle. Imagine the cost savings of not having to copy hundreds or even thousands of pages.

Nextpoint's Trial Cloud is an effective, cost-efficient platform for managing large volumes of evidence for litigation-including depositions, transcripts, email and other electronically stored information (ESI)-in a single, integrated environment. With the high-performance optimization for tablet devices, users can now access Trial Cloud's state-of-the-art deposition designation tools from a courtroom, war room, or boardroom via their mobile tablet browser. All key evidence, such as documents, depositions, and transcripts, are instantly available from the comprehensive search engine.

All of the codes/laws, court opinions, procedures, regulations, key word searches will be available on a tablet, eliminating the need to run to the law library. Plus, the digital subscriptions would be cheaper than paper books that have to be printed and shipped. Just think how a tablet would save some lawyer’s back. That’s even if you care.

The retail business is always looking for better ways to service their customers and optimize customer loyalty. Using a tablet, a sales clerk can shorten sales cycles by researching product information or inventory questions from anywhere in the store, as well as completing transactions more efficiently on the sales floor. A clerk can access inventory levels in real time, as well as notify the warehouse of restocking requirements from any location in the store.

Nordstrom’s president, Blake Nordstrom, said salespeople will use the Internet-connected devices to hunt for out-of-stock merchandise or complete credit-card transactions without making customers wait in line for a cash register.

Things Remembered is one of the first retailers to allow customers to design their own gifts on in-store iPads. Restaurants are displaying their menus on tablets located at their patron’s table, where the customer can place orders. Some retailers with multiple outlets like jewelry stores allow customers to see the company’s entire inventory not just the items available in any given location.

Imagine being in a store looking for a do-it-yourself item. The clerk pulls out a tablet and looks up the item to see if it is in stock and what competitive items are carried by the store. Then, the clerk shows you a list of additional parts that you might need to install the item and even a video showing how to make the installation. It’s coming.

More businesses are using tablets as mini-billboards mounted on walls, counters or display cases with information on products and services, such as cars available for rental, listing size, color and price. A tablet is much easier and less expensive to chance than a printed sign.

If a company exhibits at a trade show that is extremely busy, a tablet could be a lifesaver. It can be setup so that attendees can fill out a form for additional information or a request for a salesperson to visit them, keeping booth personnel available to spend more time with key buyers. Leads could also be processed immediately rather than post-show.

Creston app for equipment control

Other uses at trade shows are: customer surveys, product demos, equipment control, and customer databases to see what a particular customer is buying and in what quantity.

The usage of tablets in business is multifaceted; and we will see more creative uses in the future, but the future of tablets in business will depend on software development, which is in a growth stage right now.

Len started in the audio visual industry in 1975 and has contributed articles to several publications. He also writes opinion editorials for a local newspaper. He is now retired.

This article contains statements of personal opinion and comments made in good faith in the interest of the public. You should confirm all statements with the manufacturer to verify the correctness of the statements.