Tablets Offer Business FlexibilityBy Bob Violino Print
Tablet computers give enterprise employees more flexibility and enable companies to provide better service to their customers.
Easier Access to Information
Another company benefiting from tablet use is Schumacher, a Lafayette, La., provider of emergency room management services to hospitals. Schumacher has about 150 company-owned iPads, plus an additional 50 employee-owned devices. It began limited pilots of the original iPad when it was released, and broad distribution began with the iPad 2.
Employees use the tablets for email, Web browsing and other applications, says CIO Doug Menefee. "Many of the employees access our internal Web-based applications, primarily Salesforce.com," he says.
One benefit is easier access to information. "We see a lot more real-time information showing up in our meetings," Menefee says. "Individuals are walking in with their devices and have the information easily accessible to make decisions."
Since deploying tablets, the company is seeing higher adoption rates of its CRM application. In addition, the tablets afford frequent travelers in the company "the ability to carry a smaller-footprint device to meetings and leave the heavy lifting of laptops for the hotel room," Menefee says.
Taking Tablets to School
Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., is also benefiting from tablets. The university's Undergraduate Admissions department began deploying iPads two years ago, and about half the department's counseling staff uses these devices.
Admissions counselors travel extensively throughout the country visiting with prospective students at college fairs, high schools, and various events, says Duey Heffelfinger, associate director of admissions operations. Tablets enable the counselors to have instant access to student information, presentations and other information available on the Internet. The counselors also use the devices to collect student requests for more information at college fairs and other face-to-face visits, he says.
Creighton students, with the support of a Web coordinator, recently developed a request-for-information app and server to electronically collect requests and directly import request data into an admissions database. This eliminates the need to enter data from the paper postcards previously used.
"Gathering the request electronically improves the data collection quality, and speeds up the process of responding to the student's request," Heffelfinger says.
Admissions counselors also perform territory management functions, such as monitoring goals and results for communications, application generation and other metrics using Tableau Software’s Tableau Server.
"Tableau on the iPad allows counselors to perform ad hoc analysis to make decisions about calls, visits and other marketing activities," Heffelfinger explains. "Detailed data about prospects is also available for download from the [application] to use for calling and other contacts."
In addition to admissions, the university has conducted pilot programs with the iPad in other areas, and several colleges within the university are distributing tablets to faculty.
Among the challenges companies face with tablets is ensuring that the devices are secure.
Based on research Aberdeen conducted in April 2012, security and compliance with tablets is lagging that of smartphones, Borg says. While 64 percent of organizations are providing device control such as remote data wiping or locking for lost or stolen smartphones, only 38 percent are providing that same capability for tablets.
"Two-thirds don't have [that basic level of security], and yet the likelihood that a tablet will have sensitive data on it is greater than with a bring-your-own-device smartphone," Borg points out. "IT must play catch up. With the rate of accelerated adoption, they need to make tablets secure and compliant."
Despite concerns about security, many companies consider tablets a significant component of their IT mobility strategies.
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