My boys were about 3.5 years old when we went into an IKEA store one day. Both boys immediately ran up to the display TV in a staged living room and started touching the screen. They figured it should work the same as the touch screen computer in our kitchen. In fact, it wasn’t until they went to school that they learned about a mouse and keyboard. To them, touch is both instinctive and intuitive and now at 6 years old it’s still the first way they try to interact with a computer.
When I’m working however, I rely heavily on my mouse and keyboard. While this could be because it’s what I’m used to and comfortable with, I think it also has to do with the type of work I do and the way that the tools I use have been developed. I think this because with Windows 8 and my Surface 3, I instinctively use a mixture of input methods depending on my task. When I’m typing a document or an email, I use the keyboard and mouse, but when I’m reading or doing research, I end up putting my hands on the screen without thinking about it. In fact, when I switch back to my Lenovo notebook which isn’t touch or if I lean over my husband’s shoulder when he’s working on his MacBook, I’ll forget and be surprised that I can’t scroll up with a flick of my finger or select something on the screen with a tap.
As more business applications are being developed with touch in mind, this becomes a faster and more efficient way to get things done. While the keyboard and mouse aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, consider these business scenarios for touch device use:
1. For insurance brokers to do research, pull up pricing and product information and put together a quote on the fly at a client’s house.
2. For teachers, to be able to point and draw on a tablet and have it display on the screen behind them, enabling them to teach without having to turn their backs on their class.
3. For hospital workers to use as electronic charts that are updated real time.
4. For delivery drivers to get new delivery instructions and pull up road and traffic information.
5. For truckers and mobile field workers to get updated route information.
6. For warehouses and distribution centers to track inventory in real time from anywhere on the floor.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella recently stated that the Surface line of touch devices is here to stay, reiterating the company’s commitment to touch. The Office team first released touch enabled Office client apps a few years ago and have been making steady improvements while Surface (and therefore touch) optimized apps are starting to appear, such as these ones from Adobe.
The Surface isn’t the only touch device that works well in a business setting and Microsoft is not the only company betting on a touch friendly future. If you thought that it was just a passing fad or something only useful on home and personal devices, think again. Get your hands on one and start considering how it can enable your workforce to be more productive while being more mobile.