Where once the trusty tablet was all about entertainment and e-books, a new sector is now dominating sales, with business actively embracing the tablet trend.
Deployed for field work, activity on the go and extensively in the retail and hospitality sectors for point of sale, this commercial market is being carefully courted by the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Samsung as the tablet sector matures and enters a new era.
This is why business is increasingly turning to tablets, and how the big players are cashing in…
A little perspective
After years targeting personal users, in around 2014 the tablet market began to shift. Amidst stagnating sales figures but sensing opportunity, big names like Microsoft released professional grade models targeted at business. It was a push echoed across the board with high-spec numbers like the iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, and HP Spectre.
And according to experts to a large extent it’s working. Renowned KGI Security analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has tipped Apple will further target this market in 2017, releasing a new 10.5-inch iPad specifically aimed at the emerging commercial and educational sectors.
Meanwhile Sky News notes sales in professional tablets have bucked an otherwise slumping trend – tablets with detachable keyboards more than doubled their market share from 2015-17, increasing to 17 million shipments.
What it’s used for
Point of Sale
The hospitality and retail sectors are some of the greatest enthusiasts for tablets in the workplace, embracing the consumer and staff-friendly utility of the mobile point of sale. Research and consultancy firm Grandview Research explains this market is only set to boom further, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2016 to 2024.
“The ever-changing consumer expectations, rising debit/credit card payments, and sophisticated data analytics are projected to fuel demand for the mobile point-of-sale terminal,” they note.
This rapid take-up is also spurred on by easy-to-access mobile applications like downloadable POS software, staffing apps and accounting integrations, along with affordability of set-up and the ability to shorten the length of time at the register.
That means everyone from cafés to restaurant chains, telco’s, apparel stores and electronics specialists are seizing the opportunity to utilise a tablet in-house, either setting up a secure mPOS and cash drawer, or taking the register to the consumer.
Global Market Insights notes the retail sector accounted for more than 30% of global mobile POS revenue in 2015, and is poised to grow at 17.8% CAGR from 2016 to 2023.
“Mobile POS terminals market is expected to create value for retailers, leading to more converged and integrated store solutions”.
“The high degree of portability and accessibility enhances the exploitation of mobile terminals across this sector. These terminals provide inventory management with reporting facilities, thus making it easier to track inventory and third-party billing,” adds Grandview Research.
Associated hardware facilitating the affordable set-up of mPOS is also supporting the trend. Leading providers like InVue offer secure device stands, attached payment processing cradles and flexibility across tablet brands all in the one place.
Meanwhile ability to store information in the Cloud reduces the need for extensive computer hardware onsite.
But it’s not just about sales; the static information kiosk or even portable tablet stand is becoming a feature of everyday business where clients can access services, check-in, log-in or register their attendance using a static stand or mobile device.
Businesses, corporations like banks and government agencies are actively deploying tablets to share information with their constituents and consumers, while companies like airlines use them extensively for check-in, information and in-flight entertainment.
The New York Times cites British Airways as an example. The company has built more than 40 custom iPad apps for its work force.
“…switching to tablets has eliminated reams of paper used for flight plans, passenger manifests and maintenance records. Another app allows anyone at the airline to grab an iPad and quickly rebook passengers when a flight is canceled or weather wreaks havoc on schedules”.
The Times continues business and corporate demand equated to $25 billion of Apple equipment and services sold to corporations and big business customers last year, a rise of 40% on the year prior.
Nearly half of all iPads are now bought by corporations and governments, according to the research firm Forrester, and Apple is now stronger in the enterprise market than it is with its consumers.
Work on the go
In an era of mobility it comes as little surprise that high-grade tablets are also replacing laptops as the tool of choice for workers on the go. Over recent years Apple and Microsoft have both turned their attention to shoring up this trend by supplying detachable keyboards and enhanced software that mirrors the PC experience.
Sky News notes this is leading to tablets finding “new life amongst professionals”.
“Unlike early models, these tablets are meant to be used with a physical keyboard and a stylus. That makes them appealing to people looking to get stuff done, whether that’s typing a report or drawing on a graphics app.”
That’s not to mention the deployment of tablets for field work, with everyone from health care providers to the tree trimming industry, electrical contractors and home services tradespeople utilising the convenience of tablets to eliminate the paper trail and log jobs on the go.
The final word
Many see this new trend of tablets in the business and corporate sphere as a maturing of the tablet industry. Like most innovations it takes a while for the market to catch on to what new technology can really offer. It turns out tablets, with their mobile capability, are offering more productivity, better customer service and readily accessible information in a fast-paced digital world.