Innovative business uses for the iPad

It’s generally accepted that the iPad is an excellent business tool. It’s increasingly used in all sorts of business scenarios to collaborate and to increase productivity. Some businesses have even used the device to ‘go green’. It clearly has been a huge success. However, the iPad has also been deployed in lots of innovative ways, such as inventory tracking, in-flight entertainment, taxi screens and sales tools. Here are some of the more innovative ways in which some businesses are using their iPads.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems

It’s fair to say that mobile payment systems have redefined commerce, particularly smartphone-related payment systems like  SquareIntuit GoPayment and PAYware Mobile. However, it’s arguable that the iPad should be a contender in this sector too. iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) systems are being used increasingly in commerce. One of the reasons for this is that the start-up cost is comparatively cheap. Maintenance on the system once established is also relatively cheap compared to other POS systems. The added advantage is that training is simple and straightforward: this is particularly important in industries with a high employee turnover like restaurants and retail. Training can take as little as 20 minutes before the employee becomes operational on the iPad POS system. However, there are other peripheral costs that also need to be factored into the equation: costs like credit card readers and scanners. These currently push up the price of an iPad POS system, but as the technology is relatively new, it’s hoped that costs will fall as more suppliers enter the market.

Restaurant Menus & Entertainment

While some retailers and restaurants are installing iPads up front to manage sales, others are installing them right at the table. Take HubWorks Interactive, as an example. HubWorks Interactive is an iPad solutions provider for the hospitality industry, and is one of the growing list of companies making in-store iPad ordering a reality. Customers can not only order and pay on the tablets, but also keep up to speed with their social life and access Twitter and Facebook whilst they dine, though their fellow guests might find that rather rude. HubWorks' new technology of offering social media entertainment at the table has proved to be successful and has increased sales by 10 percent at the U.S. restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as reducing customer waiting times by 30 percent and increasing repeat customer visits by 85 percent.

Another U.S restaurant chain benefiting from in-store iPads is Let's Yo, a frozen yogurt franchise launched in October 2011 in Marlboro, New Jersey. The chain decided to install iPads at customer tables for entertainment purposes and has seen significant benefits. The iPads are hooked up to closed-circuit TVs that allow consumers to interact with one another and post on the Let's Yo Facebook Page. The company recently ran a Facebook contest, powered significantly by the in-store iPads, which led to a 41 percent increase in Facebook Likes.

Medical Records

As much as we would prefer not to think of our hospitals as businesses, there’s no getting away from the fact that they all have operational costs and are being asked to slash costs and operational expenses because of economic cutbacks. Medical records have been available electronically for years, yet there’s been a reluctance amongst the medical profession to adopt the use of iPad and other cutting-edge technology. However, even a conservative profession like medicine can’t remain immune for ever. One company, DrChrono has created an iPad app that will help doctors cut costs and manage data efficiently. DrChrono has created a cloud- and web-based electronic health record, accessible via iPad and iPhone, as well as via any Internet browser.

Along with its electronic health record platform, DrChrono also implements scheduling features, patient reminders and a billing system, making data collection and maintenance easy for doctors and their staff. Going digital benefits the patient, too, as DrChrono enables users to create profiles that can be easily updated with future visits.

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