Tablets In Business

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iPad in the Enterprise Part III: Developing a Mobile Application Roadmap

By Nathan Clevenger

In Part I and Part II of this series we looked at the drivers behind the adoption of enterprise mobile applications and some of the keys to developing an enterprise mobile strategy. In this final segment we’ll show you examples of applications relevant to different vertical industries.

To find more examples, look for the new book, iPad in the Enterprise: Developing and Deploying Business Applications, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In Part I we noted that insurance agencies were some of the first companies to adopt consumer-facing apps as a differentiator. Salespeople and adjusters can use mobile devices to interact with customers anywhere – not just at the agent’s office. During the sales process, presentations with dynamic calculators or real-time illustration tools can help customers better understand policy options.  Contracts can even be viewed and signed right on a mobile touch screen.

Because most insurance claims require significant amounts of paperwork, which subsequently get re-entered into a computer, there is a lot of potential for mobile apps. An adjuster onsite for an auto or homeowner claim can use a mobile device with a camera, GPS and barcode scanner to accelerate data collection and send relevant information back to a central database. Applications like this provide a compelling return on investment by simplifying data capture, increasing quality by performing data validation in the field, and reducing errors introduced when paper data is re-entered into a computer. 

Oil and Gas
For many years, oil and gas industry professionals have used “ruggedized” handheld computers which are essentially an early form of tablets. But managers and technologists with traditional mobile devices can see benefit from mobile business apps. In this industry, extensive embedded systems capture enormous amounts of data; the ability to access and display charts, graphics and alerts on an iPad can be a powerful way to make use of that mountain of captured data. Managers can also use a mobile device to view real-time status reports for production and safety systems.

Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals 
Medical device and pharma organizations were among the first large companies to deploy iPads to field sales forces; they immediately understood the value. By giving reps access to product information and sales  materials on an iPad, reps could maximize time with physicians and dramatically increase sales productivity and efficiency. Already, pharmaceutical manufacturers are using the iPad for prescription drug sample inventory management and to capture physician signatures when distributing samples. 

Medical device manufacturers have deployed applications for inventory management as well as sales transaction processing. With the rollout of 4,500 iPads, Medtronic may have had the largest iPad deployment of 2010. Within weeks of the device’s coming to market, the company ramped up a team to begin developing internal applications for the iPad. According to Mike Hedges, Medtronic’s CIO, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “The iPad enables our sales employees to do a much better job of engaging in a really different way than we’ve done before.”

While each industry will have its own needs, the first step in identifying which apps are relevant for any business may be to first look externally – how are your customers interacting with your company online and what opportunities are your employees missing without similar tools?

Previous Entries

Author Bio
Nathan Clevenger has been developing mobile software for more than 12 years and is the author of iPad in the Enterprise: Developing and Deploying Business Applications, a book designed to help CIOs and IT managers define and implement effective mobile strategies and platforms. 

In addition to being enterprise editor for iPhone Life magazine, Nathan is chief software architect at ITR Mobility, a mobile management and IT consulting firm, where he works with FORTUNE 500 companies to develop mobile strategies and enterprise architectures. Clients have included 3M, Ameriprise Financial, Best Buy, Boston Scientific, Ecolab, General Mills, Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Target, Thomson Reuters, UnitedHealth Group and Wells Fargo. He regularly speaks at industry events and is extremely passionate about the unrealized potential for mobile technology within the enterprise.

Tablets in Business 

Businesses are refocusing their mobile strategies and turning to tablets. But new devices present new challenges for IT and decision makers. JoinTabletPCReview in exploring the world of enterprise tablets, with news and solutions-oriented analysis.

Finally, we want to hear from you. Are you using a tablet for work? If so, which tablet. What features do you want in a business tablet. Please take a minute to take our Tablets in Business survey, and we’ll report the results.

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