Small businesses using tablets do more, faster and better

Small businesses spend an average of $192,000 a year on technology, according to Spiceworks' State of SMB IT survey. While that figure is a drop in the bucket for most large corporations, for smaller businesses it represents a huge investment. Small-business owners continue to seek ways to get the most value for every dollar they spend on technology.

Savvy small-business owners (SBOs) know that doing more with less is key to their success. An aspect of this is strategically spending money on technology that can meet a multitude of requirements. Many are choosing tablet technology that allows them to quickly and efficiently handle multiple tasks with a single powerful device.

Modern consumers expect speed, mobility and efficiency in all that they do, including their interactions with businesses. Enterprise-grade tablets, like the new MICROS mTablet E-Series powered by Intel, can help small businesses meet those expectations by packing potent computing power in a portable, cost-effective package.

Small businesses from bed and breakfasts to retail stores, restaurants and delivery services are using tablets to efficiently manage a number of tasks, including:

* Streamlining hiring and onboarding of new employees. Tablets like the MICROS mTablet E-Series allow SBOs to easily gather, process and analyze resumes and applications, transfer tax information for new hires from applications into accounting software, and automate key training aspects. Tablets can help small businesses, that don't always have a dedicated HR department, better manage human resources requirements.

* Managing and ordering inventory. Running out of inventory can be disastrous for a small business. Tablets used for point-of-sale transactions can be synced to an inventory program, ensuring that inventory stays up to date as each item leaves stock. For example, a florist might use this capability to track the number of arrangements sold in vases so he will know when it's time to order more. A restaurant might program the system to track sale of dishes with a certain ingredient in order to ensure they never run out of supply.

* Enhancing the mobility of employees who need to move around a storefront, hotel or restaurant to interact with customers. Maximizing staff efficiency is vital for a small business. For example, instead of taking an order on a paper pad and then entering it into an electronic system and a cash register, waiters can use a tablet to take an order and automatically send it to the kitchen, open a tab and track the order charges. At fast food establishments, workers with tablets can walk down a car line and speed up order taking.

* Reducing time lost to technical challenges. Tablets provide SBOs with more manageable technology, versatility and cost efficiencies. Businesses can avoid spending on technology that is very costly, or so complex that it never gets used.

* Improving customer experiences. Tablets can be used as an interface with customers to speed and streamline interactions. For example, a food truck or quick-service restaurant might use a tablet to allow guests to place their orders. The technology allows small businesses - who may have limited staff - to provide customers with better, faster service.

* Managing social engagement and loyalty programs. Customers who use a tablet to check in at a hotel can also use the device to share their experience on their favorite social networking site. Small businesses have always thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations, and social networking serves that function in the digital age.

* Connecting and managing peripherals such as cash drawers, scanners, scales and customer-facing displays.

* Creating, testing and launching marketing initiatives.

* Managing sales, costs, inventory and staffing.

While many small-business owners report an improving economy and optimistic outlook, garnering the most value and usability from their technology will continue to be a smart, necessary investment.

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