With its rapid consumer acceptance in smartphones, in tablets, and on the desktop (especially in Windows 8), touchscreen technology—also known as touch-based user interfaces (or “touch” for short)—are set to become an integral part of how we compute in the future. Fed by the consumerization of IT, touch has begun to move from consumer apps on personal devices to highly productive, collaborative business applications on PCs.
IT and line-of-business (LOB) managers see touch coming in to their organizations through the front door on users’ personal devices. Some are not convinced that touch will be part of their normal business workflow: they’re not sure why, where, and how touch is right for their business.
In this post, Prowess explores why, where, and how touch technology in business works and examines how Ultrabook devices and Windows 8 apps are gaining prominence with a hardware-software combination that is optimal for business productivity.
Demand for touch has surprised even device manufacturers, some of whom have noted supply shortages, a strong indicator of the tremendous market opportunity.
Touch is a hit
Touch is immediate. Touch gives users the opportunity to interact with a work device in the same, instinctive way they are accustomed to interacting with a non-work device—a big step on the road to greater productivity.
Moreover, the software and hardware needed to make touch computing work properly are in place. User-accessible operating systems, like iOS, Android, and Windows 8, support touch computing, and the processing power needed for touch is available in ever smaller, less expensive chipsets.
Touch has a role in business
Buying non-touch-enabled computing devices is short-sighted—smart companies will start moving to touch in their next wave of PC-refresh and device purchases. Devices with touch lend themselves naturally to such tasks as advancing from slide to slide and topic to topic in a sales presentation.
Touch devices help promote the conversation between presenter and prospect. The sweet spot of touch computing in business is this 2-devices-in-1 characteristic, and it is where touch can play its most prominent role.
Manufacturers are putting new devices, form factors, and ergonomics on the market that are designed to work well in business settings.
Where touch works best in business
The following are some of the places touch works well in your business:
- C-suite: Dashboards and business intelligence
- Customer relationship management (CRM): Customer-facing campaigns, contact center activity, and customer feedback in social media
- Workforce management: Human resource administration, employee training, instruction, and signatures on electronic documents
- Sales and marketing: Presentations, face-to-face customer interaction, trade shows, and digital brochures
- Meetings: Note-taking and drawing
- Big data: Post-computation analysis of large amounts of data
- IT troubleshooting: On-the-go network monitoring and mobile knowledge base
- Preliminary design and sketching: Stylus-based apps for early UI sketches, storyboards, diagrams, and rough visuals
After addressing why and where integrating touch makes sense in your business, it’s time to consider how touch will make a difference.
How touch makes a difference in business
Touch and touch devices reduce physical obstacles to collaboration and help people share information in a more natural way. Whiteboards and pads of paper are open and made for touch, but they lack the digital support—consistency, networking, and storage—of electronic devices.
In a meeting or a customer interaction with touch devices, participants can engage in shared content by unobtrusively touching images on a screen.
How users are making touch work
Usability testing conducted by Intel on Ultrabook devices shows how users take to touch in business. The testing results demonstrate:
- Preference for touch: most users (77 percent) use the touchscreen when it was an option
- Preference for an Ultrabook over a combination of tablet and wireless keyboard
- Favorable ergonomics
- Perception among users that touch computing makes work more like play
- Preference for a device that opens and closes like a laptop, yet includes a touch screen
- Preference to retain the hardware keyboard built into the Ultrabook
How the IT industry is making touch work
Intel and Microsoft have invested heavily in industry-leading initiatives for putting touch computing to work in businesses.
Intel launched the Ultrabook in 2011 as a business-caliber computer that also embodies the most desirable qualities of the tablet: touch screen, extended battery life, small profile, and fast start-up.
With the advent of Windows 8, touch computing has leapt from the tablet to the PC. On touch-enabled PCs, Windows 8 encourages users to launch, interact with, and switch among applications by means of touch gestures.
How businesses are making touch work
Large companies are scrutinizing their own internal applications and making them available through enterprise app stores. IT is often optimizing the apps for touch. An internal app store built around touch-enabled Windows 8 apps offers the productivity and security that the business wants with the devices and touch that users want.
Touch is a direction—not a fad—that smart companies are rapidly adopting. Employees are taking into the work environment their expectations for accomplishing more of their job with touch. When they can work in ways and on devices that appeal to them, they work more productively—a benefit for both the business and the employee.
Because some typical, focused business tasks require more than touch input and more features than smartphones and tablets, the Ultrabook device is emerging as the optimal device for blending touch, keyboard, and trackpad.
Read the full paper to learn more: Why, Where, and How Is Touch Right for Your Business? A Guide for IT and Line-of-Business Managers.