Tablets are revolutionizing all aspects of our lives. In business, leisure, and everything else, our iPads and Android devices have been our constant companions in the last couple of years. According to Gartner, an American IT research and advisory firm, worldwide tablet shipments would amount to 197 million units in 2013 alone. That’s a significant 69.8 increase from 2012’s 116 million units.
The use of tablets is expected to rise even more in the near future. It is predicted that by the second quarter of 2014, tablets will outsell personal computers (desktops and laptops), putting tablets in the position of main computing devices and effectively replacing PCs. This means that more people will be mobile in the following year and beyond.
What does this mean for everyone? The processes with which we do things are going to change for good — or at least, up until a new disruptive technology becomes mainstream.
In business, this means that more employers can grant flexible work schedules to their employees because the latter can easily work wherever they are, thanks to the mobility and portability of tablets. According to a recent EY poll of more than a thousand managers and employees across different industries in the United States, employees from the ages of 18 to 32 put top priority on flexibility. Employees aged 33 to 48 even consider this perk as non-negotiable. Also, it turns out that men want flexibility the most, not women. This is a shake-up of the popular notion that only working mothers would benefit from flexible work schedules.
But it’s not just when and where we work that tablets are changing. It’s also how we work. Productivity apps on our iPads and Android devices help us do our tasks in fast, easy, and efficient ways. On the App Store and/or Google Play, there’s an app for just about everything related to business: creating documents and presentations, storing and accessing files, making notes and bookmarks, videoconferencing with clients and coworkers, translating texts, taking and editing photos, preparing schedules, playing videos, connecting with social and professional networks, etc. A whole organization can shift from paper-based to paperless processes to make its business more mobile and portable.
Yes, the transition to new technology is not easy, and yes, it can be met with resistance starting from your organization’s interns and temps all the way up to the C-suite managers and board of directors. But the change needs to be top-down for it to be effective. An organization that wishes to make the tablet its primary device in the workplace need to have directors who are willing to initiate the change. So the question you need to ask is, “How comfortable is the board with new technology?”
Boards keeping up with innovation make more relevant strategic decisions, so it’s critical for your board to stay updated especially on something as fast-changing as technology. If your directors fall behind now, they’ll have a hard time catching up with the next big thing. If they aren’t used to the tablet, how can they adapt to something like wearable technology (e.g. Google Glass, smartwatch) in the next five years or less?
The secret to keeping up with the times is never letting yourself get behind, even when you’re comfortable where you are right now. This lesson is learned the hard way by big companies like Nokia which failed to lead in the smartphone industry, and Kodak which failed to realize in time the importance of digital cameras. Both companies innovated too little, too late in the game. The complacency of their leadership toppled them from the top, allowing old competitors and new players to take over.
The good thing about mistakes is that you don’t necessarily have to make them to learn from them. Where Nokia and Kodak failed, your organization can succeed. But start with your board before anything else. A board meeting solution on the iPad or an Android device can help your directors learn how to use tablets for business, if they still haven’t yet at this point. It’s a good way to ease them into this technology, which, along the way, will expose them to other concepts such as cloud storage, virtual collaboration, and SaaS (software as a service).
If you’re having difficulty with convincing board members that board portals on tablets is a good idea, you can refer back to earlier articles about paperless boardrooms on the iPad and Android devices, and the challenges that come along with them.