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How to deploy tablets to your mobile workforce

Jen A. Miller | July 2, 2015
Wakefield Canada needed a new tablet PC for use in the field. Who better to ask then the very folks who’d have to use the mobile devices? Here’s what they chose and why.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

When Wakefield Canada, the exclusive distributor for Castrol in Canada, set out to replace the tablets used by their sales team, it went right to the source to figure out what to buy: The people who would be using them in the field. 

"A big part of this was really involving our end users in the tool selection," says Kent Mills, Wakefield Canada CTO. 

The company landed on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Here's why and how they made an easy transition. 

Target the real customer

Even though the tablets would be used for sales purposes, the real customer here was the sales people who would be using the devices. The first question IT asked was what didn't they like about the devices they were already using? 

"Feedback from the salesforce was that tablets were nice but they were too slow to start up, heavy to lug around and they just weren't feeling like they were that convenient to use," says Mills. 

IT chose several potential candidates as replacements, including options from HP, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple. 

Then, in conjunction with the salesforce, IT created a matrix of what they wanted in a device, including communication, design, display, integration, performance, peripherals, support and security. 

Then the company's top five sales representatives were each given a tablet. After a week, they rotated tablets to the next salesperson until each one had used all five device candidates, and scored how they did in each category. 

"It wasn't even close. Microsoft was unanimous by a very hefty margin," says Mills. He admits that the Surface Pro 3 wouldn't have been his first initial choice, but he's not the one who had to use the tablet. After completing the matrix, it was clear that the salesforce was choosing the best tool for them. 

"It's not about me. I'm not the guy using it at the end of the day," he says. 

Laptop and tablet combined

"It's a fine machine for an on-the-road laptop," says Dan Bricklin, CTO of Alpha Software, a mobile enterprise app development company. "It can act very well as a laptop but it can also be used as a tablet in a sales environment." 

That can be key in sales, he says, because tablets are inherently social. "A laptop sits between you and another person. If you're in a sales situation, you can turn it around but you can't really share it. A tablet you can place down on the desk and two people who either sit across from each other or next to each other can easily share it," he says. "It works like brochure marketing material. It's wonderful for a sales environment, presentation type of thing." 

 

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