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4 Surprising Business Uses for the iPad

There’s something satisfying about using a tablet platform. The buttons are responsive, the screen allows your fingers to glide around and move colorful icons, and the scaled-down nature of the device makes it seem like more of a fun gadget than a business accessory. But as companies from engineering firms to retail giants are beginning to learn, tablets such as Apple’s iPad are far from a toy, and much more than a gadget. Hordes of high-end apps have hit the marketplace, and many are designed solely for business purposes and organization efforts. If you decide to pick one up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results, but probably even more surprised with the positive results you didn’t expect. Here are four unconventional ways that the iPad is making its mark on the business world.

Modular Retail

Anybody with experience in retail can tell you about the simplicity and beauty of Point-of-Sale (POS) technology. After setting up the basic software, you have access to a range of options, from inventory management to automatically-calculated tax records. The system, essentially, operates on its own, relying on you only to make pricing decisions or regulate things as you see fit. This system is as versatile as it sounds, and everything from restaurants to grocery stores have started to implement it. Recently, the iPad has become one of the flagship devices for the POS hardware adaptations. Some companies, such as Shopify, have developed entire POS lines dedicated to the Apple platform. Everything from dedicated card-reading devices to iPad-compatible stands are available, filling any niche that a retailer could ever have or foresee. By swapping out particular attachments, your iPad becomes a multiuse tool, capable of payment processing, order management, and tracking your outgoing products.

Field Reports

Some of the most creative uses of the iPad are not found in offices, but instead in the open world. A range of companies, from engineering firm Bechtel to building firm Daiwa House, have started using the iPad’s extensive app selection – and ability to use custom apps – as the vehicle for their work in the field or on special job sites. In Bechtel’s case, the iPad is used to coordinate building sites and teams, fill out a variety of reports and forms, and even display safety information. The Mayo Clinic has been known to use iPads to display patient information and bring up relevant data, as well as recommending particular apps that would improve a patient’s health-related habits. Some fire departments are also avid users of the platform, relying on the iPad for training purposes and shortening response time with a host of apps. Although these companies and their uses may seem unconventional, they highlight just how easily the device can transition between industries and occupations.

Board Meeting Flair

The iPad’s larger screen makes it a perfect vessel for delivering information during meetings and presentations. While producing a PowerPoint is standard board meeting procedure, the ability to simply download an app on your tablet, configure your data, and present it seamlessly is a step in the right direction. A host of apps have recently hit the market with the intention of streamlining your presentation’s data, including Keynote, which functions as a presentation mastermind. These presentations can be manipulated by touch, and incorporate high-resolution graphics, animations, and transitions. Furthermore, the device’s small size and weight make it perfect for mobile meetings. The days of struggling to find an outlet, or fussing with a projector system, have come to a much-welcomed close. The decreased weight also has another benefit, however: there’s no challenge to holding the iPad up for your viewers, and keeping the viewing angle and lack of glare consistent. Try doing that with a standard laptop.

Remote Access

Considering the extremely mobile nature of the iPad, it was only a matter of time until Apple or other developers released apps for remote access. In the digital age, telecommuting and performing work on-the-go are often vital parts of a job, and the amount of apps dedicated to remote access make these activities feasible and efficient. Programs like GotoMyPC and Cubby have been lauded for their remote access connections and cloud-computing benefits. The iPad’s inherent use of the cloud enables it to store your work, upload data, and make quick edits, all without needing to shuffle files around. The cloud hosts all of your data, and makes it available to anybody who requires access. Businesses with widespread iPad usage can easily toss files back and forth between workers, and make telecommuting viable, if not your best bet.

As more businesses begin to shift to mobile platforms and cloud-based data storage, the iPad is sure to see an upswing in users and possible applications. The continued release of business-oriented apps is a good sign for the tablet, and it shows no signs of slowing, or running out of innovations. When it comes to possible benefits for your business, the sky – or perhaps the cloud – is the limit.