Tablet computers are heavily promoted to customers, with an emphasis on films, games and personal productivity. However, the iPad and devices like it are also changing how companies in the Tucson area go about their everyday business.
The iPad surfaced in April 2010, but the past year or so has witnessed enormous business adoption for the apparatus. Apple announced in the fall that over 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have begun experimenting with using iPads. Many even have developed their own proprietary, custom-made apps which are used for technical business processes.
However, it isn’t only mega companies that are deploying pills. The iPad’s ease and comparatively low price — a simple version costs $499 — have enabled small and medium companies to capitalize on the trend also.
A research conducted by New York-based market research firm NPD Group found that almost three quarters of U.S. companies with fewer than 1,000 workers have plans to buy tablets this year.
The iPad is not the only tablet , obviously. There are alternatives, such as the Kindle Fire by Amazon and many devices that run Google’s Android operating system. And software giant Microsoft recently announced its own line of tablet PCs which will be called Surface. However, the iPad, which accounts for over 60 percent of the international tablet market, has been the very considered tablet for small companies in NPD’s study.
Tucson businesses are utilizing the iPad to reduce costs, simplify complex tasks and enhance customer service. This is how five Tucson companies are using this device.
A cooler cash register
Sparkroot Coffee Bar + Fare
245 E. Congress St.
Sparkroot owner Ari Shapiro does not consider himself an early adopter, in actuality, quite the opposite.
“I am really a bit of a luddite. If I could use an old fashioned cash register, I would,” he said.
However, if the entrepreneur decided to start Sparkroot, a downtown artisan coffee bar, he found himself opting for an entirely tablet-based point of sale system on a conventional cash register.
“I am always one for picking simplicity,” Shapiro said. “I was intrigued.”
The setup is straightforward. Using an app named ConnectPOS POS, baristas punch in orders on an iPad. Clients either pay in cash or scan their credit or debit card through a scanner that’s plugged into the iPad.
ConnectPOS also tracks data such as inventory and sales that Shapiro can then review from anyplace.
The iPad has been causing a significant disruption in regards to point of sale, which traditionally has been cumbersome and costly, often requiring long-term contracts and complex equipment.
Traditional point-of-sale systems can run into the tens of thousands. Nevertheless, the initial set up at Sparkroot cost about $1,000, for example, device and software.
Following that, the coffee bar’s ConnectPOS POS subscription costs approximately $50 a month.
The iPad is also easier to train workers to use, Shapiro said. The touch screens are easy to navigate and the team is comfortable with the technology. The iPad also matches with Sparkroot’s trendy look and feel.
“It’s easy to use and it is fun,” he said. “And I wanted something slick, to go with the surroundings.”
Sonoran Wings Flight Training Centre
6720 S. Plumer Ave.
With an iPad behind the wheel of a vehicle will probably result in an accident, but they are becoming crucial in a cockpit.
Jerry Williams, owner of Sonoran Wings Flight Training Centre, is a passionate convert to tablet computing. Pupils at his school utilize the iPad for aid in everything from dispatching to flight intending to navigation.
“This thing is taking over aviation,” Williams says.
From puddle jumpers to jumbo jets, the iPad has been used to handle one of the greatest nuisances from the heavens: newspaper.
For many years, federal regulations have required pilots to take heavy flight bags containing aeronautical and navigation charts, airport directories, flight plans and much more. The weight adds up, especially in smaller planes, Williams said. The Federal Aviation Administration also updates some flight substances almost weekly, so keeping paperwork current may also be cumbersome.
But using easy e-reading apps, like iBooks, pilots can reduce paper and actually have faster access to important information swiping a display than flipping through a hefty graph.
The U.S. Air Force ordered some 18,000 iPads for pilots. Several major airlines, including United and American, are planning to begin using”paperless cockpits.”
Williams reported that some of his pupils use flight-based apps like ForeFlight, which employs the iPad’s GPS, to help write flight plans and examine their piloting skills.
The iPad also is useful for looking up weather, which is always on a pilot’s head, Williams says.
Williams has been working with computers since 1956 and has the Apple II he purchased in 1979.
“Computers are a way of life for me,” he states,”But this is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen since I started using them.”
A tech friendly neighborhood
350 E. Morningside Road, Green Valley
La Posada, a 700-resident retirement community where the average resident is about 85 years old, is out to finish any notion that seniors and technology do not mix. The nonprofit is dedicated to making its campus tech-friendly.
The iPad is fundamental to all those efforts, said Paul Ide, a senior vice president at La Posada.
The neighborhood loans iPads from its library, and it has encouraged casual iPad clubs for residents to share what they are doing with their apparatus.
“We strive to help the residents utilize technology to do things that they like,” Ide said. “If we could do that, we are way ahead.”
Ide said the iPad is a fantastic fit for a range of reasons. To begin with, it is more comfortable to use. Residents don’t need to sit at a computer desk and can move easily with it from room to room. It’s also not vulnerable to viruses how PCs are, which makes it easier to keep.
La Posada has also equipped some of its own meeting rooms with Apple TVs, which allow citizens to broadcast what is on their iPad into a bunch. Residents meet regularly to share photographs, interesting stories, or just get more comfortable with the device.
“The doctrine is inhabitants assisting residents,” Ide said.
When it comes to computing, there’s tons of that. La Posada has a technology helpline staffed by volunteers who provides assistance with often asked questions.
The iPad has also been applied in Hospice and Memory care, occasionally to play with a patient’s preferred music or for video chatting with relatives.
Planetary Science Institute
1700 E. Fort Lowell Road
The Planetary Science Institute may have its eyes on the stars, but in addition, it has to keep an eye on its employees here on earth.
The nonprofit research institute concentrates on the exploration of the solar system and works with NASA as well other space agencies. It’s about 100 employees, with approximately one-third based in its Tucson headquarters. Others have been distributed across 18 states and Washington, D.C., and in countries like the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, Australia and many others.
And lots of those people today spend considerable amounts of time on the road, traveling to meetings and seminars. In short, building a team setting can be tough said manager Mark Sykes.
The institute started out with iPads to perform fundamental work on the street, like email. However, if the iPad two came out, and was equipped with a Web camera, Sykes had the institute trade in for the brand new edition. Every employee now has an iPad 2.
The institute also constructed a custom iPad app named PSI Connect. It comprises a directory of every employee and shortcuts to connect together through video apps like FaceTime or Skype.
“The value of iPads within our company is communicating,” Sykes said.
The ability to have live video was a significant update to the institute’s weekly staff meetings. The iPads also helped the institute get around having to buy a pricey video conferencing tool, using a special phone line and camera.
“We have gotten people used to seeing each other. We all know what we look like. We talk with one another,” Sykes said. “It builds and helps to keep our community.”
Remote company management
288 N. Church Ave.
Tom Hill runs a real home-based enterprise. Z Mansion, the historic downtown wedding and event venue Hill owns, doubles as his family’s real property. The problem is, Hill is rarely home.
Following a successful career as a writer, then as a internet entrepreneur, Hill divides his time between Tucson and France, and travels around the planet performing a mixture of investigating and volunteering.
The iPad lets Hill handle the work of Z Mansion from just about anywhere. The dozen or so vendors Z Mansion functions with handle the majority of the nitty gritty of event planning, but Hill utilizes Apple’s Web-based iCloud to update and examine slideshows, spreadsheets, and the business’s books from the street.
The business retains everything, from planning worksheets to rehearsal directions in the cloud where they are easily updated and accessed from any of the provider’s devices.
“It’s quite simple to use and upgrade,” Hill said. “And it allows us continue to participate with a company that we enjoy. It is fun for us to do this.”
Hill also uses an app named HelloFax to send and receive faxes and digital signatures. And for staff meetings, he utilizes the iPad’s camera.
Z Mansion vendors also use iPads to provide walking tours to potential clients using KeyNote, a slideshow app for Mac products. You could not do this with a laptop, Hill said.
“It is interactive, good-looking and portable,” he said.
They can also show the home to anyone who might be unable to tour in person using the built-in webcam. By way of example, 1 half of a potential couple toured the place from a base in Afghanistan.