Karen Chappel works in Systems Engineering at Raymond James and was kind enough to answer some questions about how her company uses Tablet PCs.
Raymond James is a financial services holding company with subsidiaries engaged primarily in investment and financial planning, in addition to investment banking and asset management. The company was founded in 1962 and had revenues of $3.2 billion last year.
She told me that Tablet PCs save time and increase efficiency, but there are several reasons why only about 10% of her organization uses them.
How many Tablet PCs do you have in your organization? Are they the rule or exception? Which models do you use?
We have less than 300 tablets in our environment. They are still the exception at about 10% of our portable population. We currently have the HP TC1100, TC4200, TC4400, and the 2730p. We also have the Fujitsu T4215, T4220 and T5010.
The majority of our associates still use standard notebooks. I think that notebook users in general are still unaware of the power of a pen-enabled notebook.
Tell us about an advisor’s typical day at work and what they have to get done on a daily basis.
Only 15% of our tablets are used by financial advisors. When I inquired about the reasons for selecting the tablet, many of our users said they chose it because it was smaller and lighter than a standard laptop. Only about 30% of the population actually uses the pen functionality.
What do your employees use their tablets for in a typical day?
Most of the actual tablet users reside in IT, where their primary use is for note taking during meetings. We have a small specialized group that realized significant financial and operational benefits from tablet functionality; this group edits and approves large documents before publication. Prior to using tablets, these documents were printed multiple times, as a copy was required for each step in the editing process. These copies were then all saved for a long retention period. The move to tablets had a dramatic effect in many areas. Not only did it increase productivity time, but it also reduced or eliminated costs across the board.
Why did Raymond James start using Tablets in the first place?
A small group of users asked for them, so we did a project to select a tablet. The potential for future use, as a way to collect electronic signatures on documents, was present for a few years; but that gradually went away as the advent of signature pads and other technologies evolved. Today, our tablet users are very specialized.
What software do your advisors run that are optimized for inking?
Primarily Microsoft OneNote and the Microsoft Office Suites.
Can you tell us how tablets make your employees more efficient compared to using standard notebooks?
Our pen-savvy associates gain efficiency while taking notes in meetings. OneNote is a very powerful tool that replaces the old pen and paper method. OneNote makes it possible to search handwritten notes, create Outlook tasks, set reminders, and flag items for follow-up.
Tablet PCs are generally more expensive than other devices. Can you easily justify the extra cost?
Yes and no. It’s easy to see that the savings achieved by our specialized group more than justifies the extra expense. I think that it’s harder for management to justify the expense for a general user. Again, the fault lies in the awareness and comfort with the technology.
What challenges do you face with using Tablets?
No optical drive. That is the biggest complaint we receive about the form factors. Also, I think that people are hung up on the perception that your handwriting must be perfect for it to be effective. I personally have interesting penmanship, but I don’t have a problem. Windows 7 takes that to the next level.