iPad Sets Path To Productivity and a Paperless Office

Businesses including beauty salons and restaurants are experimenting with new tasks for Apple's tablet computer. Some small business owners say that the combination of the device's ease of use, always-on capabilities, and large screen size could help them improve business processes. That is, if there's an app for that.

Tim Markley recently ordered three Apple iPads for his warehouse. He put them on the forklift and the carts that workers push down aisles while they pull items off the shelves to fill orders. Previously, employees would carry lists (on paper) and once they completed an order they'd find a computer on the 20,000-square-foot warehouse floor to update the inventory database. That meant a lot of time spent walking around looking for a computer, then entering data Relevant Products/Services -- not filling orders. "In a warehouse, your travel time to pick orders is 50 percent of an employee's time," says Markley, president of Elkhart [Ind.]-based Markley Enterprise, a 75-person firm that designs marketing displays for stores and trade shows. "We put pedometers on our people and we actually saw steps decrease by 30 percent with the iPad," he says. Another benefit: Markley now e-mails orders to each iPad, eliminating the need for paper.

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