Why businesses are turning to touchscreens

Brid-Aine Parnell

Sunday 11 October 2015

Not too long ago, a workable touchscreen desktop seemed both unlikely and unnecessary, but modern desktops are showing companies that the touchscreen is business-ready.

“Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical,” Steve Jobs once claimed at a 2010 press event. “Touch surfaces want to be horizontal; hence pads.”

However, despite Jobs’ prediction, touchscreens have made their way onto laptops and desktops courtesy of a push from Intel for touchscreens to show up on ultrabooks, along with the advent of Windows 7 and then Windows 8 from Microsoft.

With a touch-adapted operating system that can handle multi-touch gestures, other software-makers have a real opportunity to create programs that get the best out of touch, both for home users and businesses.

It may not seem immediately obvious that touchscreens are a good fit at work, but they have a number of advantages. For a business’ younger employees, touch operating systems are intuitive and natural, so much so that some might even occasionally find themselves inadvertently prodding away at their dumb monitors!

Touch is also a more efficient way to navigate. Reaching out to touch an icon takes a lot less time than using a mouse or touchpad to manoeuvre a pointer and then click on what you want. Considering the amount of different programs and windows workers in all sorts of industries use every day, that minor efficiency could soon add up.

But these are just the general benefits. Drill down into specific programs and it’s easy to see how touchscreens could transform different industries, particularly those involved in design. Whether you’re engineering a bridge, a building or the latest model of car, the ability to manipulate designs by reaching out and touching them, zooming in and moving 3D models quickly and efficiently by hand, could really revolutionise the design process. This kind of capability may not be precise enough to meet CAD standards just yet, but even being able to view and share 3D models is a step in the right direction.

This one example shows how touch could help make many software programs more visual. Organising and filing documents or photos by moving them around on the screen, for example. Or navigating maps, diagrams or flowcharts by touch. It all present possibilities for new ways of working.

In the meantime, although touchscreens can’t totally replace the mouse and keyboard, they are a valuable addition to the modern workplace – particularly when the cost and size of the enterprise-level machines that go with them, like Lenovo’s M93p, are becoming more and more attractive to businesses.