I love tech – it’s a part of my personal life, a huge piece of my business, and where I draw inspiration. But since the 1990’s, it’s sad for me to say that tech hasn’t truly pushed small business out of its old ways and into greener pastures. That’s why I’m happy to point to 2012 as both the Year of the Dragon and the (lesser-known) Year of the Tablet. In last year’s Q4 alone, the Kindle Fire sold up to 6 million units and Google Android tablets 10.5 million.
The numbers don’t lie: tablets are primed to transform computing for small businesses this year, and it isn’t all about the iPad (which sold 11.2 million units in Q4).
Until recently, it was easy to excuse those who thought that tablets are to laptops as laptops are to desktops. As Sarah Lacy points out on PandoDaily, it’s not that simple. It’s different than the “SAAS mania of the early 2000s” that ran into IT barriers. Tablets change the way we interact with software. Because tablets utilize touch-based apps, Lacy predicts that workers are more included to adopt business software, partially “because it’s the new shiny toy they want more reasons to use.” Apps follow the mantra “there’s an app for that,” which works perfectly for small business, because, no matter your workflow, there is an app to help.
Tablets are designed simple and functional, important distinctions for small businesses. Rather than booting up a computer or laptop (or keeping one running for the entire day) that is also running a host of other programs in the background, tablet apps give you what you want when you want it. If you want to balance your checkbook, create an invoice or scan and send documents to the cloud, jumping into an app is much easier than booting up a program on a traditional computer. It’s also important to point out that beyond the obvious tablet choice of the iPad – the Amazon Kindle and now the Samsung Galaxy – have put competitive, appealing alternatives on the market.
The main advantage of a tablet is speed, which is enhanced because of mobility. Why wait to input an invoice into a computer or share a business contract when you are back in the office? Many SMBs don’t sit at a desk all day; they are on the floor, servicing customers or out on the road. The mobile nature of tablets and apps let you take action right away, and many times from the field without lugging around a laptop. Plus, the tablet is replacing a lot of traditional equipment small businesses need at a lower cost, like a cash register, fax or scanner.
I’m certainly not the first to predict that tablets have a home inside businesses, but it is important to make the distinction that they have a home within small business. I think that by the end of 2012, small businesses will understand and adopt tablets in their daily workflow. This will push app developers like myself to create better software to make your lives easier… and I’m sure there will be a new version of Angry Birds out soon, too.
Tablet Photo via Shutterstock