Utilizing Tablets for Sales and Beyond

By Gerard Longo, Assistant Editor — August 02, 2012

Despite rising mobility trends in virtually every industry, sales professionals have been particularly slow in their willingness to embrace mobile technology as a means of doing business.

However, according to an interview with Jim Steger, Principal and Co-Founder of Sonoma Partners, this may be changing.

Why Not Embrace Mobility?

Steger explains that sales professionals have been slow to embrace mobility simply because there have been very few options that bring sales and mobility together in a user-friendly way.

"Sales reps in general are one group that typically has not embraced technology because they want to work the way they’re most comfortable working," Steger says. "If you provide technology to assist that, great, but if not, they’re not going to go out of their way to embrace it."

Until recently, there haven’t been many easy-to-use solutions that combine functionality and convenience for sales professionals. Laptops have long been considered too clunky and awkward for on-the-go, collaborative use, while smartphones provide portability but often lack the size and capabilities to make sales data easy to enter.

A Happy Medium?

Enter the tablet. With the portability of a smartphone and the functionality of a laptop, Steger says the tablet is becoming the go-to choice.

Tablets like Apple’s iPad were a bit slow to gain traction in the enterprise, but since IT professionals have realized that their capabilities span beyond those for the consumer, adoption has increased.

"I don’t think (Apple) ever intended (the iPad) for the business force, but it got people onto a form factor device that's exciting to use in general," Steger says. "We’re seeing an increase in IT departments and thought leaders saying, 'Can we take this device and produce applications that can benefit the sales user?'"

IT departments have started doing just that, increasingly making tablets an  essential and user friendly device for the sales force. Steger says. "It’s not just value-added for the sales force, but a must-have to close business."

Assessing and Addressing the Challenges and the Future

With tablet use in the enterprise still relatively new, many IT departments have not yet addressed the challenges associated with it, from application development and network support to security and device management capabilities.

However, Steger points out, the enterprise is picking up on this, since mobility in the workplace is here to stay. "Businesses realize mobility is not just a fad, but a necessary component to be successful," Steger says.

Because of this, it's expected that tablet developers will continue to raise their game to meet these challenges. Although Steger mentions that Apple seems more focused on form function than enterprise security with the debut of the iPad, subsequent tablet competitors like Microsoft and Google appear to be prioritizing enterprise functionality with their devices.

"When you look at Windows 8 (devices) and the subsequent devices we’ve seen, I think you’re going to see commitment to a level of innovation to the enterprise that, to an extent, Apple’s been ignoring," Steger says.

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