The tablet PC, popularised by the Apple iPad, has revolutionised the consumer computing market. A huge demand drove other suppliers to develop similar touch-screen, ultra portable tablet devices, and this in turn gave rise to the explosion of apps and multi-media content. These devices have also found their way into the business world, which has given rise to other concerns. Since tablets were developed as a consumer device for media consumption, reading and other non-input type tasks, security and management within businesses has become a growing concern.
As a result, the tablet has donned a suit and tie and assumed a more professional guise in the form of the slate. The slate addresses the business requirement for a secure and manageable device that tightly integrates with current IT equipment and services. It offers business users a seamless transition and experience between desktop and tablet.
One of the biggest problems for business users when it comes to tablets is that the operating system used on the tablet and their PC has differed, since the majority of business users run Windows OS and not Mac. This has made synchronising difficult, which in turn hampers productivity. The slate however has been designed to offer the full tablet functionality while running off a Windows platform, which offers seamless transition and synchronisation. It offers highly portable, always-on connectivity and intuitive touch screen capabilities, a larger display and simpler user interface, and security and management features that make it the ideal business tool.
This addresses a gap in the market that has developed as a result of an ever more mobile workforce and increasingly fast-paced business environment. Many people are often ‘away’ from their desks either travelling to customers, in meetings, or in transit for a large portion of their days. The speed of business has become such that the time to respond to request, queries and problems has decreased dramatically, which means that these hours away from the desk can be detrimental if users do not have a portable devices from which to work. A device like a slate offers greater computing ability in a small form factor which assists increased productivity and ability in these instances where a full notebook or desktop is out of reach or just not feasible.
Since the slate is a Windows-based device, it enables familiar business applications to run smoothly on a native platform, including Outlook, Word, and Excel to name a few. For ultra-mobile road warriors who have multiple devices that need to sync, this makes life a lot easier. All of the tools and business applications they need can be made available in the cloud, enabling them to work seamlessly between devices.
Email can also be easily synced, since secure setup enables emails to be delivered from the exchange server to multiple devices whatever connection is available on whichever device. When it comes to file and document synchronisation, cloud providers offer the ideal solution for syncing between slates, smartphones and notebooks, ensuring that all files are available whenever and wherever they are needed, on whichever device they are required.
The new generation of application and back-end technologies that integrate with the cloud indicate that “always on” and constantly updating functionality is something that will soon become commonplace on notebooks, tablets and slates. This, coupled with the imminent release of the Windows 8 operating system, which has been built with touch interfacing in mind, clearly shows the direction that technology is heading in the future. Touch is here to stay, and there is little doubt that the future holds a multitude of new touch-enabled devices.
The slate has emerged to address the needs of the business market for a tablet that caters specifically for its needs. But donning a suit and tie is just the first step in the evolution of the tablet, and we can expect to see a multitude of new, specialised products entering the market in the near future. From school uniforms to lab coats, the tablet has the potential to take on multiple guises and fulfil any number of roles in an increasingly mobile and connected world.
Deon Botha, HP Personal Systems Group business unit manager at DCC