Why Tablets Are The Main Tool Of The Modern Mobile Workforce

Tablets are changing how and where where work gets done, contributing to new levels of productivity and greater levels of overall satisfaction.

Portability, versatility and increasing computer performance of tablets are bringing completely new experiences, changing how we enjoy entertainment, shop, gather information, communicate and blend our digital and real worlds. This series by PSFK and Intel explores how improving tablet capabilities are changing the status quo in many aspects of our lives.

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Cubicle farms are becoming a thing of the past as a preference for open office plans bring a mix of private and public spaces all networked for hyper productivity, allowing people to collaborate in real-time by any means necessary. Yet workspaces are not the only thing changing at workplaces.

Today’s workforce, across many industries, is shifting towards agility fueled by an increasing number of new technological touch points. While these are changing the very nature of how and where we work, it’s the savvy ways people are using mobile devices such as tablets that is leading to meaningful careers and boosting bottom lines.

A study from Accenture notes that 60% of professionals say mobile technologies improve their productivity. This number may seem low for anyone who has relied on a laptop for essential work. However, when it comes to tablets, that figure may seem just about right because relying on a tablet for important business needs, at least until recently, was risky and often a bit compromising.  Poor web browsing and collaboration capabilities or ability to print and managing high quality content in an accessible way are just a few pain points many people come up against when using a consumer tablet at work.

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Although the Bring Your Own Device trend has been embraced by many businesses, the fact remains not all consumer tablets can readily connect or provide only limited access to critical business applications, according to Intel supported case study by Prowess, which looked at tablet use among marketing and sales professionals.

Even as newer tablets are built with higher quality computing capabilities and more business applications and online services are being designed for touchscreen experiences, today people are finding that the best tablets for essential work are ones that can multitask and easily connect with existing business tools, processes and infrastructure.

“They (tablets) are good at quick access to information, email and replacing paper, but they’re not replacing mainstream computing yet,” said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, in an interview with Intel Free Press. “It’s a matter of being able to run all the necessary business applications and services.”

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Long before tablets became popular, mobile technologies streamlined communication, task management as well as creation and presentation capabilities. But people who are using tablets at work often bring more intimate behaviors and interactions once relegated to family and friends. It’s not uncommon for coworkers to share a tablet screen on a table to review a document, pinch or zoom into a photo or tap on an interactive, graphic-rich report. With these digital experiences always at our finger tips, it is allowing us to stay in tune and be ultra-productive in or outside the office.

Debatable as it may be, telecommuting can improve employee performance, so having a tablet that can seamlessly switch between fun and real work tasks is allowing people to build careers, launch startups or lead an untethered life as an independent freelancer.

Having a tablet doesn’t necessarily mean your Moleskin notepad days are done. If there’s a real world workflow that works for you, there’s probably a tablet app that can transform your skills with the digital world. Pop is a mobile application that lets designers quickly iterate on their ideas by converting notebook sketches into interactive digital resources. Utilizing their tablet camera, users take pictures of hand drawn-sketches and instantly convert them into interactive prototypes. With no coding required, the app simplifies the aspect of interaction design known as “wire-framing,” creating an intuitive link between analog and digital resources.  Similar applications like Genius Scan enable users to quickly scan documents on the go and email them as JPEG or PDF with multiple pages. Its scanner technology includes smart page detection, perspective correction, and image post-processing, all of which aid in streamlining the process of transferring from analog to digital. Most importantly these apps save time on what once was a multi-step process to transfer designs from paper to online, aiding in productivity.

When it comes to telecommuting, get a little real-time help from your digital friend MindMeld. This digital collaboration assistant uses voice recognition and listens to your conversation then offers useful information based on audio clues it collected from the dialogue. Created by Expect Labs, the new service uses speech recognition and SIRI-esque artificial intelligence to enhance people’s tablet video conversations. While up to eight colleagues are speaking with each other, MindMeld listens for key terms and determine the subject of discussion. Links and images to relevant information are displayed to each party based on what they say. For example, if a user is on a conference call and a reference is made to a brand’s past advertising campaign, the application will automatically search for it online and serve it up, helping everyone get on the same page. Each user can then share their favorite items by tapping and swiping them into a ‘share’ space, where they become viewable to everyone.

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Tablets at work can be great for meeting visual needs. SketchDeck is an app that allows users to draw slides on their tablet and create a professional slideshow by outsourcing production to a design team dedicated to making the presentation more visually exciting. Once the sketched slides are completed, the user sends them directly to a team of designers who will turn the slides into polished presentations in less than 24 hours. Though the final look is left entirely in the hands of the service, it allows workers to focus on building compelling content without the stress of layout and design.

With a polished presentation in hand, showcasing a deliverable can be the make or break moment in any project’s timeline. Digital solutions are being embedded into devices like tablets which expand content beyond the confines of a screen to aid in presentations or help facilitate impromptu meetings between team members. Promate’s LumiTab is a tablet that is augmented with a 35 lumen projector that promises clear display of images up to 100-inches diagonally. The projector-enhanced tablet is not designed to replace traditional projectors, but instead integrate an enhanced capability into a product people are already adopting into their workflow. The solution helps mobile workers visually communicate their work on the go, wherever a meeting or presentation needs to take place. At home, tablets are slotting themselves seamlessly into ‘living room offices’ of the future. Intel’s WiDi allows users to effortlessly stream movies from their Ultrabook device to a HDTV and display a business presentation from a tablet on the conference room big screen.

Tablets are becoming increasingly integral for doing business, and professionals in many fields are using them to bring new visual and collaborative ways of doing business. Some may say that innovation in tablets is driving new workflows in more workplaces, but it’s how people are using these devices that will lead to new levels of productivity and greater levels of overall satisfaction about the work that we do.

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