5 ways small businesses can benefit by using an iPad

Is the iPad designed specifically for consumer use? Well, the answer is no, contrary to popular views. The iPad is now an essential business tool. Many businesses are now aware of its value. As far back as 2010, surveys conducted by PriceGrabber.com found that 20 percent of iPad purchasers use their devices primarily for mobile productivity, whilst 19 percent used theirs as a laptop or notebook replacement. Only 3 percent of respondents claimed that they would be used strictly as an entertainment device. So what’s the business appeal of the iPad? How can small companies benefit by using the device?

As a presentation device:

If there’s one feature that sets the iPad apart from other devices, it’s the ability to connect to a video projector. This is, in a sense, the iPad’s killer feature. When you couple this benefit with iWork's impressive Keynote presentation software, it gives businesses the ability to deliver stunning conference-room presentations. And of course the iPad is now also compatible with Microsoft Office, so the possibilities for delivering memorable presentations are limitless.

As a sales tool:

The iPad is a lightweight portable device. It’s easier to carry round than most notebooks. It’s the perfect tool to use when businesses want to share numbers and spreadsheets with their clients. It’s also offers 3G connectivity, so workers can send and receive files and emails when they’re outside W-Fi hotspot range. With a plethora of remote access applications available now, workers can access the corporate network from virtually any geographic location.

As a portable portfolio:

Graphic artists, photographers, website designers, and anyone involved with the creation of digital art can use the iPad conveniently to display work to clients. The iPad's high-resolution 1024x768 9.7 inches LCD can really make artwork stand out. There’s no longer a need to present creations on expensive colour-printouts, or lug around a laptop: artists, designers and architects can now use the iPad as a portable portfolio.

As a digital sign-up sheet:

Small stores and boutiques often create mailing lists to keep customers up to speed on new products, services or announcements. A bolted iPad at the front desk could easily replace the "sign-up-for-our-mailing-list" sheet, as the iPad's on-screen keyboard is large enough to make typing easy. Customers could key their contact information into a data management app, making it easier for companies to create mailing lists cross-referenced by customer purchases, and keep them up-to-date. There’s no reason why companies shouldn’t even go that extra mile and create an iPad app for the business, which could serve as a "mini-kiosk" for in-store customers to find information.

As a multimedia storage device:

Musicians and photographers carry around an extraordinary amount of heavy and cumbersome equipment. They then also have to carry a laptop which stores their creations. Although the 16 GB and 32 GB iPad models have a relatively limited storage capacity, the 64 GB model offers enough to hold lots of high-definition photos and music files. What’s more the iPad is significantly smaller and lighter than a notebook.

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