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Renewable Energy Revolution
June 1st 2011 -

It’s been a little over a year since Apple unveiled its first iPad and only a few months since they released the iPad 2. Even from within the tech sector it is often dizzying the rate at which new technologies emerge. More so even in the consumer electronics sphere as tablets replace computers and mobile phones become the embodiment of that which was the realm of science fiction only a few years ago. What does all of this digital sound and fury benefit though if it’s not improving the technology capabilities of the business sector in order to promote increased performance and flexibility for your company’s technology needs?

I am frequently asked when devices like the iPad will make it into the retail sector and replace conventional point of sale workstations. Unlike comparison shopping consumer electronics, the technological needs and consideration factors of businesses are far different and should not simply fall victim to flashy marketing or initial impressions from a cursory demonstration. Business acquisition of new or updated technology needs to be weighed against many factors. A few of the key decision-making factors are outlined below.

Proven Performance & Longevity

This is actually one of the reasons why devices like Apple’s iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab are not immediately embraced as ad-hoc replacement for traditional point of sale terminals. It’s easy for Apple to showcase their own device in their own retail store and make it appear as capable as a traditional workstation, but you must remember that Apple controls every aspect of their technology, from the hardware and application to the retail distribution channels. If your local grocery store attempted to demonstrate the same flair for cutting edge integration, they’d quickly encounter innumerable hurdles because they don’t control the technology used by their suppliers nor do they have the luxury of dictating the market conditions in which they must remain competitive.

Businesses do eventually reap the benefits of trendsetters like Apple or early adopters of new technology but only after the technology has proven itself to be able to perform reliably and for an extended period to justify the investment costs for the lifecycle of the technology. This lag in adoption actually works to the advantage of the wait-and-see investor because the longer the delay results in more choices of application on the relative platform as well as later evolution in the performance and longevity expectations of subsequent generations.

Open Standards of Development Platform

Following the point above, the key factor of course to any opportunity to incorporate new technology is in its opportunity for open-source development. If software developers have no standards for the development of applications on the platform or if the availability to market compatible applications is too restrictive, this severely affects the incorporation of the new technology in a wider variety of markets and industries. In my opinion this will be the catch which will prevent many industries from embracing the iPad as a replacement point of sale device.

Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure

The iPad itself is but a single component in a larger infrastructure, a network of devices and connectivity which needs to work together to be of any value to the business. A new business venture is going to have to invest in an entirely new network of devices anyways; however, retrofitting an existing business network just to be compatible with a single new component is unlikely to be cost-effective. Therefore it is important that either the new technology be backwards-compatible or else have a long-term corporate strategy that will reinvest in the regular upgrade cycle in order to bring it current with the new technology. This is yet another reason to be patient with the technology and not try to force a square peg into a round hole.

Scalability to grow with your business

It’s pretty easy to understand how today’s technology will meet today’s business needs. Anticipating tomorrow’s business needs is much more challenging. The secret to maximizing investments in new technology is to understand the underlying functionality of the technology in order to determine if it is actually able to grow along with your business needs. There’s nothing more frustrating than discarding otherwise functional technology simply because it is frozen in its scalability and unable to continue meeting your business’ needs. This is my personal feeling on mobile phones, of which I end up with a drawer full of functional but obsolete models.

Ease of Use & Learning Curve

Any time a revolutionary new technology emerges which triggers a market-wide innovation, it typically is leveraged on the simplicity of the interface and the speed with which the uninitiated can become proficient. This seems to be reason that the iPad and similar devices have been selling so well in spite of the fact that everyone and their grandmother knows how to use a personal computer. By stripping away all of the superfluous trappings and getting down to the bare essentials of what people need, the tablet has made everyday tasks new and exciting. At the same time, it didn’t take a lengthy introduction or guided tutorial to figure out how to use one’s own fingers.

Conclusion

A little extra time and effort on the decision-making process can yield far more savings both in investment and in effort for years to come.

 

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