A recent Gartner webcast solidifies a sneaking suspicion that’s becoming more obvious with every iPad sold: “They’re coming into the workplace whether you want them there or not.” This coming from Gartner Analyst David Willis in a discussion entitled “iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business”. With the question shifting from one of whether they’ll come to one of when they’ll arrive, industries such as field services, medical and retail can look forward to a whole new era of mobility.

“The tablet is bringing computing to a new class of user in new areas,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner fellow.

Rather than remaining stationary at a desktop computer, workers in these industries are experiencing a whole new level of interactivity with their customers and technology by showing video, taking custom orders and finalizing transactions with barcode and signature-capturing technology. While tablets are bringing medical technicians out from behind their computers, they’re also allowing field service techs to toss out their pencils, clipboards and spreadsheets.

The popularity of iPad 2 alone should be enough to clue in even the most out-of-touch field service manager. Here on The SmartVan, we’ve covered dozens of new apps and rival tablets to hit the scene in recent months. And a little more than a month after iPad 2’s release, Apple retail stores are sold out and online orders take about two to three weeks, reports InformationWeek.

Although the iPad and its rival tablets haven’t replaced desktop computers, laptops or smart phones, they certainly are game-changing tools that augment those other pieces of technology, Cearley concludes.

More about tablets in the enterprise on The SmartVan

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ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.