Clipboard similarities to the iPad are facilitating user adoption

For the past couple of months I have demonstrated ZenTouch to service professionals from a myriad of industries; electricians, installers, auto dent repairers, carpet cleaners, plumbers and others.  I have found some trends that are enlightening, but today I wanted to focus on one – the adoption of the iPad especially in light of the launch of iPad 3 yesterday

This actually surprised me as I suspected many of the attendees would prefer the Android, iPhone or Rugged PDA form factor. This unexpected decision trend caused me to wonder, “Why is the iPad form factor so much more popular?”

Yes, it’s easy to say people like having more screen real estate but there has to be a more compelling driver. Then it hit me, no matter the service industry from physicians to service techs everyone uses a clipboard.

We are so in-grained with collecting and annotating data using a clipboard that the physical similarities of the iPad or Android to a clipboard make it easy, even comfortable, to pick up an iPad and go to work.

The clipboard form factor is so  universal that transitioning to an iPad is a natural.  Plus, when you consider how “flipping” through pages using a finger swipe parallels flipping through pages on a clipboard the physical metaphor is further enhanced.

The adoption of the Android tablet has been far less significant. I think part of the Android’s adoption troubles it is both too big and to0 small at the same time.  It doesn’t really fit the clipboard metaphor that has made the iPad an easier transition for all business and service sectors. But I digress.

Let’s look at a two industry sectors


Think of the last time you went to the doctor, dentist or other care-giver, they handed you a clipboard with a number of forms to fill out. That same medical form on iPad is just as easy if not easier.  I recently visited with a physical therapist who is looking to pre-load a patient’s information on an iPad form. The front desk attendant can hand the iPad to the patient who then quickly verifies or updates previous medical information.

Previously doctors accessed paper medical records on a clipboard rifling through a stack of papers. Now, using an iPad, not only can they access a patient’s record they can review historical trends, drill into past treatments,  compare and evaluate current conditions to provide medical treatment based on real-time data and historical data. The medical records become a living document updated each time a patient receives treatment.

New advances are also making the communication with the physician and patient easier. Physicians can display a patients x-rays, pull up anatomical diagrams to explain medical conditions, and more. There are some amazing medical iPad apps on the market. Here is an example:

The power this gives to the physician and patient is amazing.

Service Technicians

ZenTouch work orders on an iPad

Service technicians ranging from HVAC Techs, Plumbers to Auto Dent Repairs all carry a clipboard. Tasks range from looking up part numbers, checking off service items, filling out the work order, collecting payment information and getting final sign off.

Now with systems like ZenTouch, a cloud base mobile work order system by Zenware, service techs are using their iPad “clipboard” to create estimates, process assigned work orders, add parts and services on the fly, access customer information, review previous service work, manage service crews and have information sync directly into QuickBooks.

The clipboard form factor is so  universal that transitioning to an iPad or Android Tablet is a natural transition. Especially if you can couple the familiarity of a clipboard style device with intelligent business, medical or service apps that drive business, significantly improves processes and provide better service to your customers.

Here are a few areas that smart iPad Apps like ZenTouch are improving service business processes

  • Easy and immediate access to prior service information
  • Integrated service or pricing lists allow the technician to focus on service instead of pricing
  • Immediate invoice for faster collections
  • Proof of work
  • Create, schedule and dispatch future service tickets right in the field
  • Reduce and even eliminate human errors with automated business process
  • Avoid handwriting and note translation errors
  • Compute service work totals automatically
  • Collect and record payments at the time of service

Services industries from all sectors are rapidly adopting enterprise mobile solutions.  I see a significantly higher move towards the iPad as the device form factor of choice.  Doug Drink Water in his recent blog “The 8 industries and professions most rapidly impacted by tablets” highlights the impact tablets of various service industries. Notice that all of these industries historically collected data on a clipboard.

Enterprise mobility is impacting all business sectors. Question is, are you still clinging to that old clipboard and business processes or leading the pack with a simple transition?

Jody Sedrick

Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc
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Zenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, ipad software development, iphone software development, custom web development, web hosting and Saas based work order management software.