Businesses hard pressed to keep pace with technology

Improving technology is adopted so quickly that businesses looking for a technological edge over competitors sometimes buy new devices as soon as they hit the market, even if they’re not yet sure how they might help improve customer service and the bottom line.

Such is the case with tablet computers and smart boards. Grand Valley businesses are purchasing such devices as the Apple iPad with plans to use them to control conference rooms, training rooms and board rooms.

Business owners don’t know what the real applications will be, said Jeremiah Hines, owner of Audio Video Experts in Grand Junction. But they do know the tablets offer high-resolution video and the ability to control systems using tablet touch screens.

A year after the iPad made its debut, five different brands of tablets are now available.

“Pictures are getting better and the number of applications is increasing,” said Liz Burkey, customer solutions manager for Best Buy in Grand Junction.

The iPad, for example, offers more than 150,000 applications.

“They are a mini-computer,” Burkey said.

The use of tablet computers to improve the quality of video conferencing is particularly appealing, Hines said.

Video conferencing is huge, said Hines of the trend for business people to talk face-to-face with clients and vendors without actually visiting the site of the person with whom they’re conversing.

Because he offers both video and audio service, Hines sees opportunity in a trend to install surround sound for video conferencing. “I think it’s more of a status symbol than functionality,” he said. But today’s status symbol can become tomorrow’s status quo in the quickly changing world of technology.

In fact, surround sound can be important if a group of business people wants to view commercial advertisements, Hines said.

Tablets aren’t the only new form of technology in the business office. Mobile phones continue to expand the number of applications they offer. The iPhone 4 offers video phone calls and high-definition video recording, although screen sizes prevent them from becoming a good substitute for video conferencing during board meetings.

Android software for mobile devices has caught fire. Android services include e-mail, Internet browsers, cameras, a global positioning system, calendars, maps and memory storage.

With updated tablet computers and software hitting the market seemingly every few months, it’s no wonder businesses might feel squeezed in efforts to try to learn the applications before they buy the new business toys. They’re hoping those types of purchases pay off in the long run.