Many a times – new technologies appear to be solutions looking for a problem, recent developments in tablet technologies being no exception. The initial implementations and pilots conducted by organizations are typically:

  • Clipboard replacement: Convert a paper form filled in field/on shop-floor to tablet.
  • Enable access to data as required in the field for decision support ( e.g. if I discount by further 1%, how much does my sales commission change?)
  • Attracting consumers already using smartphones and tablets to an organization’s B2C properties( mobile website, mobile commerce).
  • Efficiency in field force and field assets ( optimizing service visits, sales, collections)

Almost all of the above are subset of systems already existing in the enterprise, of which the field access part is made more convenient from switching to a laptop or a paper based system to a mobile and tablet system.

Few organizations are moving beyond subset systems to solve adjacent problems. As an example – the geo-location capability of  phones can be used to locate the nearest ATM.

One of the simplest mechanisms to identify how new technology can help you is by the matrix below which I came across about 6 years back ( unfortunately – too long a time to remember who to attribute it to).

In this matrix, we list the new technology capabilities in one axis and issues/  problem / non-optimized operation processes, disproportionate expenses  and other business needs requiring improvement in the other axis.  Them we try to see if any of the new technical capabilities solves the issue.

Technology Capabilities – >


Business Issues



Capability 1 Capability 2 Capability 3 Capability n
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue n

Lets see the matrix in action for mobile technologies for a coffee shop.

Technology Capabilities ->

Business Issues                              V

Small Form factor and rugged design. Communication capability – Bluetooth, Wifi, NFC Sensors – Accelerometer, proximity, light, location, haptic feedback Portable Accessories ( Printer, Card Reader, Biometric, etc) Available with most consumers
Queue for ordering Yes – staff can collect order in the queue on portable device. Yes – customers can communicate their arrival time reliably – along with their pre-orders; allowing order to be ready just in time. Yes –customers could pre-order before entering queue.
Payment time and dispensing change Yes – tap phone instead of swiping card. Yes – each staff can collect payment, no limitation of number of POS terminals Yes – customers could have pre-loaded wallet accelerating payment
Loyalty card processing Yes – Tap phone instead of stamping a card Yes – all staff can process, no limitation on POS Yes – customers may carry mobile loyalty card
Inviting trial for new products, spreading the word  Yes – video advertisement on tablet based displays Yes – push promotions
Limited space for menu board limits combos Yes – tablet based video displays and electronic menu Yes – Menu on your own device.
Training new staff on recipe Yes: Electronic recipe on work stations Yes – staff self learns on their devices
Periodic tasks Yes – check lists and reminder can be added on tablets fixed on different stations
Reconciling order to customers – which mug has what & whose Yes – order ticket / number can be printed to paste Yes – customers name goes with order which can be written/ or pasted on mug
Informing customers when their order is ready to pick Yes – click on customer name to notify their order is ready Yes – buzz customers when order is ready Yes – customers get notification on own devices.
View / process order tickets Yes – order tickets may be displayed on tablets on workstation
Need to wipe hand before handling compute  Yes – gesture may be used
Recognizing customers Yes – view list of “checked in” customer with pictures to recognize them Yes – declare their presence at store

Note that some of these are already implemented by Square Inc, Starbucks, Dunking Donuts and others.

Using the above matrix  along with persona mapping and value chain mapping of different industries, the identified use cases can help identify use of mobile technologies.

Image courtesy   Alek0505 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos