Demand for tablets continues to grow with no sign of stopping.  Just last week, analyst firm IDC revised its estimate for the worldwide tablet market to 117.1 million units for the year, up from a previous forecast of 107.4. In its latest Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, IDC also increased its 2013 tablet forecast from 142.8 million units to 165.9 million units; by 2016 the firm expects worldwide shipments to reach 261.4 million units.

In announcing its revised forecast, IDC said, “Despite ongoing economic concerns in most regions of the world, consumers continue to buy tablets in record numbers and we expect particularly strong demand in the fourth quarter.”

Among small business owners, migration to tablets to run business applications is beginning. The August SB Authority Market Sentiment Survey conducted by The Small Business Authority, a brand of Newtek Business Services, indicated that 33 percent of small business owners currently run business applications on a tablet or smartphone. That figure is up from 28 percent from the company’s survey conducted in March.

Commenting on the survey, Newtek chairman and president Barry Sloane said, “We believe the long term trend toward cloud computing and small business using tablets and smartphones has started. We believe mobile computing and mobile applications are here to stay and will revolutionize the way business is done today.”

Maybe you are among the small business owners who have started to move your business applications and processes to tablets. If not, here are just some of the ways tablets can boost your operations and productivity:

  • Check email and social media networks and respond to customers when you are out of the office.
  • Launch video chat or a video conference with a customer or team member from anywhere. Just add a headset.  (Android tablet users now won’t ever have to worry about losing your headset with the new FindMyHeadset app.)
  • Download applications to manage appointments or business events.
  • Create and edit documents on the go.
  • Sign and upload contracts that need your signature.
  • Display a business presentation directly from your tablet or connect the device to a larger screen using High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) for even better viewing.
  • Conduct inventory tracking and auditing with apps such as Inventory Tracker.  (Versions are available for iPad and Android devices.)
  • Keep track of expenses and record income data on the fly to reduce end-of-week data entry.
  • Download Point of Sale (POS) applications onto your tablet to process credit card transactions.

Are you using a tablet to help run your business more efficiently? What applications are you using?