Tablet PC sales: growth opportunities for retailers

Last week at PCR Bootcamp CONTEXT hosted a panel of experts to debate the future of tablets.

Context1Despite the recent decline in sales of tablets, the panel was universally optimistic about their potential in enterprise. “There is a huge opportunity in B2B verticals and in process improvement” said Phil Northam, head of Knox customisation at Samsung. “We can customise any Android system, we launched this program in April last year and we have significantly grown our revenues.”

Rodric Yates, Mobility Business Development Leader at IBM added “we are just scratching the surface.” But different skills and expectations are necessary “don’t start by trying to sell a tablet – the first thing is to understand what customers need” said Matt Birch, Channel Sales Manager for Intel. “The sell cycle is longer, it is critical to ensure that the device recommended is right for the customer otherwise the opportunity will be lost and the customer will give up on tablet… the OS, the form factor, the app ecosystem or even something as simple as the screen size all have to be right or else they will lie gathering dust on the shelves and people go back to their old devices.”

We heard about many different use cases for tablets – in education, hospitals, fieldwork and a fascinating case of airline entertainment systems from Phil Northam. “We had to take the wifi drivers out and the popup which says ‘don’t turn the volume up as it can damage your ears’. The result was a customised tablet giving an improved customer experience, and a lower cost solution with less weight in the aeroplane and hence massive fuel savings.”

“When you identify the solution it creates stickiness with the customer,” said Matt Birch. All of this is music to the ears of resellers and retailers who asked questions about whether this could be applied to smaller clients. “Come and talk to us” said Phil Northam.

Rodric Yates pursued the theme of listening “we have been accused of throwing technology over the wall, and not consulting the end user to ensure they get value. Listen to the users and build for them what they need not what they want. Don’t replicate the design you get on a laptop and make sure when you are designing that you use the context and capabilities of smartphone or tablet. Put power into the hands of people combining a beautiful front-end with back-end analytics.”

“For a fieldworker you can create an application which answers the question ‘where is my job, do I have the right tools, if I am struggling what are the manuals I need to refer to, can I tap into expertise using social media?’ – in this way you bring all the power together so that you can get the job done.”

In hospitals to avoid the paper flying about, you can answer the question ‘where are the patients, and the beds?’ and bring the right experience for symptoms and contra-indications – you can bring systems together to see the patient as one. Then you can organise who does what and when.

Perhaps we should end with an optimistic note on consumer tablets which still represent the lion’s share of sales “There is still a consumer demand but customers are only able to get some of their computing needs from a tablet so we believe there is a great opportunity for 2 in 1 and also Windows 10.” said Matt Birch.

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Filed under Retail in CONTEXT, Tablet PCs

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