Ultimate tablet computers
WRITTEN BY GABRIELLA BLAKE
Apple dominates the tablet market by a significant margin and with the recent release of the iPad 2 the caliber of its production is better than ever. Apple tablets have been popular among business executives for a while now, but the market is constantly expanding and the choice of tablets has widened significantly.
Here we take a look at a few of the hottest tablets out there at the moment and consider their benefits for the businessperson.
Confusingly named – for this tablet is suitable for work as well as play – the BlackBerry PlayBook’s outstanding feature is the (almost) perfect partnership between the brand’s phones and this tablet. Helpfully, tethering via Bluetooth enables you to access anything stored on your phone via the tablet’s much larger screen. No more will you sense your blood pressure rising as you attempt to write a long email on your handset’s tiny text box! Not only this, but the tethering connection allows your data to be synchronized on both gadgets.
Better yet, BlackBerry has carefully considered the implications for security as a result of this capability. Tethering can be monitored and controlled by your IT department so that personal information and confidential company data is protected. For example, if your tablet is recycled and given to another user, no worries – the slate is completely wiped clean with all your files and activity logs removed.
However, the PlayBook’s strength is also its downfall. The tablet’s email and calendar are limited without the connection to the BlackBerry phone. Buying this product in isolation, then, might mean you miss out on one of its key pulls.
It still has its other benefits, though. Multi-tasking on this device is seamless, and battery life is an impressive 10 hours, matching the feat of the iPad.
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is easy to carry around wherever you are. Like Samsung’s smartphones, their tablet utilises an Android operating system: here, it’s Honeycomb. Apps familiar to Android smartphone users, such as Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Maps, are all on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The smoothness of multitasking on this device should be applauded. ‘MiniApps’ allows pop-ups of favoured apps such as Calendar, PenMemo and TaskManager to sit over your main screen without causing a lag. You can also view a list of every app currently running alongside the amount of memory each one is using, so you can then shut down memory-eating apps and conserve your battery life.
The tablet also benefits from what Samsung terms “full web browsing” – simply put, the Galaxy Tab allows the user to open Flash webpages, whereas the iPad does not. Websites such as BBC and YouTube are therefore completely accessible when you want to catch up with the news or take a break with some television.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101
This is a tablet that sets itself apart from the rest with its bonus product: a full QWERTY keyboard. If you have never been a fan of touchscreen typing this is the tablet for you. Simply place your tablet in the keyboard’s docking station and tap away. Connecting your tablet to the dock come with the added benefit of doubling your battery life.
Of course, the tablet is also installed with a touchscreen keyboard and ASUS’ vision is that the user switches between the two as appropriate. If you’re making a long train journey and have a long report to type up you can bring your keyboard along too, find a table and get typing the faster way. If you finish the report by the time you reach the taxi and you fancy catching up on your emails quickly you can simply detach the hardware keyboard, place it in your bag and return to tablet-only mode.
The downside of this tablet is that it is missing 3G. However, what it can boast is 16 hours battery life (albeit when connecting to the dock) and a scratch-resistant glass display. If you’re looking for longevity, then, this may be the tablet for you.
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Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”