Tablet Business Case? Let Them Figure it Out...

By Robin Gareiss
On Mar 20, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Most organizations we're benchmarking now are doing something with tablets. In most cases, they have some small, controlled rollout, either just for executives or for a specific, narrow job function.

IT is inundated with requests for tablets. Everyone wants one, but few can demonstrate why.

And therein lies the challenge of moving tablets to the next level. What is the true business case? Executives? Well, let's be honest. They really don't need a business case. They find value, they want them, they get them. And IT figures out how to connect them securely to corporate resources.

What is this value executives find with tablets? Reading email, reading the news, playing games, carrying a lighter-weight device on business trips, watching movies, and simply keeping up with other executives who also have tablets. Few actually create content on these devices.

Thanks to a life of travel, I typically get upgraded when flying. So when I'm in first class, I always ask my seatmate (who nearly always has a tablet) what the business value is of the device (I know, very statistically significant data here.) Not once in 18 months of asking this question have I found an executive business case that is attached to hard dollars (either selling more or saving hard dollars). The value relates to productivity and personal preference. I can translate that executive productivity to dollars based on their compensation. But in terms of actually bringing greenbacks into the organization or limiting what goes out? Not happening.

Where it does happen, though, is in other parts of the organization.  For example, a large utility uses tablets to send live video feeds to centrally located experts who help troubleshoot complex problems. That saves significant cost from the old way of doing things, when the expert had to physically come to the locations. A hotel chain has increased the sales of beverages on the beach by using a tap-screen order app on a tablet that wirelessly sends drink orders to the bar. Runners bring the drinks out more quickly than having the waitstaff walk back, manually place the order, wait for the bartender to make the drinks, and then walk them back to the beach. And a sales organization has eliminated paper brochures that it previously left with customers by showing them the brochures in person on the tablet, and then emailing them right on the spot (less than one year of brochure costs pays for the tablet). See for a paper on benefits of mobile devices in various organizations.

To find out how tablets can save or make more money for your organization, here's an innovative approach. If employees want tablets, develop the following program:

--The company establishes a committee of business and IT folks who provide guidelines on employee-generated business cases, documentation required, and what it considers a success. Imagine a checklist that employees can use to determine if their ideas will ultimately get the committee's nod when it comes to reimbursing them for the tablets they purchased.

--Employee buys a tablet, based on pre-established IT guidelines indicating what tablets the company supports

--Employee uses said tablet and determines a valid use for it, documenting the use case and cost savings/revenue generation based on the committee's criteria

--Once the employee has generated a solid business case, he or she presents it to a committee

--If the business case has merit, the company reimburses the employee for the cost of the tablet, provides a stipend for monthly costs, and/or gives a percentage of the savings/cost generation to the employee for a set time frame (one year is reasonable).

Put a program like that in place, and you'll have swarms of employee-entrepreneurs helping to establish business cases that will reduce costs, make employees happier, more loyal, and more productive, and ultimately boost the bottom line.


Most organizations we're benchmarking now are doing something with tablets. In most cases, they have some small, controlled rollout, either just for executives or for a specific, narrow job function.
i agree with this.