10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

Summary: TechRepublic guest post: In case you haven’t heard, e-readers are making an impact. They’ve been around for some time, but only now (thanks, in part, to Amazon’s Kindle) are they being taken seriously.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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TechRepublic guest post: In case you haven’t heard, e-readers are making an impact. They’ve been around for some time, but only now (thanks, in part, to Amazon’s Kindle) are they being taken seriously. The e-readers’ biggest fan is the avid reader, but this doesn’t have to (and most likely won’t) be the case for long. Enterprises should start deploying e-readers to certain staff/users. Why? There are many reasons — several of which directly affect the bottom line.

But why, exactly, should your company adopt e-readers? Here are 10 good reasons for the switch.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Cost savings

I figured I would start out with the eye opener. The average e-reader (one that would make sense in the business environment) costs under $300. Let’s say you want to purchase five of them for upper echelon staff. That’s a total of $1,500. The average cost of a box of multipurpose paper is $35. So you would have to go through 42 boxes of paper to recoup your e-reader investment. That’s 210,000 sheets of paper total, or 575 sheets of paper a day for one year. You also must figure in other costs in this equation: Delivery costs, ink/toner, printer wear/tear/repair, energy used by printer, downtime when printers are not functioning, etc.

Although it sounds like it would take a long period to recoup the cost of the e-reader devices, you know how upper management eats through reports - and they don’t have the luxury of waiting for a printer to be repaired. Besides, by the time your company is ready to take the plunge and purchase e-readers, the average cost of the device will have dropped. Not only that, many e-book editions of books are cheaper than the standard editions. O’Reilly books are always cheaper in e-book form.

2: Greener business

No matter where you stand on the issue, you know businesses waste tons of paper yearly. This paper is either recycled or tossed. Although recycling is a noble gesture, even the act of doing so contributes to the problem. Someone has to pick up (or drop off) that paper to recycle. And the recycling plants use up energy and give off pollution in the process. You can avoid a good deal of this by employing e-readers. Distributing all of your company paper work, documentation, meeting pamphlets, etc., via files that can be used on an e-reader only makes sense.

Also see: Sony launches two new readers including a pocket-sized $199 device

3: Space savings

Cluttered desks are not only a sign of a cluttered mind, they are also a sign of a less-than-efficient worker. If you were to measure the space taken up by printers and printer paper, you might be surprised at how much space you would gain back by eliminating them. But it’s not just about space. Removing clutter around the office improves efficiency and morale. Think about how often you hear workers complaining about the condition of the work environment that is directly affected by the clutter derived from printers, printer tools and accessories, and paper.

4: More efficient workers

How many of your employees are paper jugglers? And how much of that juggling causes less efficient work? Imagine your employees having all their paperwork, memos, meeting notes, and handbooks in one portable location? This would lead to less lost work, better organization, less mess, and less time wasted sifting and sorting through stacks of papers. And more efficient workers directly affect bottom line. Meetings could be more efficient as well. Imagine your employees coming to meetings and being handed an e-reader with every piece of necessary paperwork ready for them, instead of distributing stacks and stacks of paper. Some e-readers also allow for annotation, which would enable employees to take notes.

5: Increased professionalism

Imagine what handing out e-readers at meetings could do for your image. If you’re a company that depends upon its image to stay ahead of the competition, how better to impress your clients than by having all your information on an e-reader instead of a folder with the traditional paperwork? Not only will this impress clients, it will allow you to protect your intellectual property when you get your e-reader back at the end of the meeting. No client will be able to walk off with your information or steal your work or ideas. Besides, modern business is done at the speed of data, not the speed of a paper and ink.

6: Staying in the know

Some e-readers allow you to download newspapers, magazines, and blogs wirelessly. (The Kindle 2 does this very well.) This provides an outstanding means for your users to stay on top of current events and trends, while at the same time having company data, documents, and other resources conveniently in the same space-saving device. Yes, this can be done with a laptop — but with laptops, there are added issues you don’t have to deal with when using e-readers. Remember, the e-reader is a single-minded device, so your employees will be using them only for the task at hand.

7: Higher morale

There are times when a company needs a boost in morale. Handing out e-readers, even if they are for work, will give a short-term boost. The e-reader is an outstanding tool that can be leveraged to keep employees on task and happy. By allowing your employees to use these tools for their own reading, as well for managing company documentation and information, they will see that you not only value their work, but you’re also concerned about their mental well being. This is critical to employee retention. And although an e-reader seems like a small offering, it will go a long way to make employees happier, better workers.

8: More documentation on hand

Imagine having an entire library worth of documentation ready for your employees to use on a single server. No more having to dedicate office space for a library or spending critical dollars on multiple copies of books. Instead, purchase an e-book and make it available for all of your e-reader-ready employees. This wouldn’t just apply to purchased books, either. You could also provide in-house documentation for all your e-reader users. In certain situations (and if you have the technology in place), users could have access to your documentation on the go.

9: Reduced eye strain

It has been proven (and I can attest to this) that e-ink technology leads to far less eye strain than reading from a standard PC monitor or laptop screen. When employees spend the vast majority of their day reading at their desks, their eye health will benefit greatly if they can spend a portion of that day reading from an e-reader. The average person can spend much more time reading safely from an e-reader than from a monitor. This helps boost morale, along with productivity. Less eye strain leads to fewer headaches. Fewer headaches leads to more productive employees.

10: In-house publications

How often do you invest time and money on having large documents bound together for ease of use? With e-readers, you don’t have to outsource this service. It becomes an in-house job that can be done quickly and easily. Not only are you saving money. When you “publish” in house, your employees will get the documents they need much faster. No more waiting for the bound copies to arrive from the publisher. No more having to unpack and hand out heavy books. No more waste. You are your own source of documentation, publication, and distribution.

Brave new e-reader world

You probably never thought you would see the day when e-readers could be a possibility in the enterprise. Well, that time is coming, and you can be ahead of the curve by making this investment. Just make sure you do your homework to find the e-reader that serves you and your employees best.

Have you thought about deploying e-readers in your enterprise? Is this something you would like to see happen? If so, chime in and let your fellow TechRepublic readers hear your thoughts.

Topic: Hardware

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14 comments
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  • Privacy

    Nice concepts, but once the issue of privacy comes into mind, it is easier to shred paper, then to start tracking device security and do remote wipes, etc if the device is lost. Also I do not think the devices are built with that security in mind.
    merio74
    • Obviously current hardware does not meet business needs

      Just the DRM factor is anti-business. I'm not saying there should be no DRM, but if there is going to be DRM it should be controlled by the business itself, not an outside party.

      I think by "e-reader" we should be thinking about general tablets that use electronic ink for display, however the software on these tablets need to designed for a different purpose than say a Kindle.
      Michael Kelly
    • I agree

      If it can receive, it can be hacked. However, Where large companies (IBM, M$, etc.) or companies with national secrets (Boeing, Northrup, etc.) would be obvious targets of hackers and industrial thieves, many smaller (50-200 employees) companies who can utilize this tech are so far off (most) hackers' radars that they are basically protected by anonymity. They can also be smart enough to discriminate the material they put on these devices and keep the most sensitive materials restricted to a different format (such as hard copy, CD, or other things restricted to the campus).

      But whatever form of information disseminated, those who want to steal it will always find a way.
      lojack_skjeij
  • Tablets are better

    I think it would be a whole lot better to use lower cost multi-touch Tablet PCs based on Windows 7, that have increasingly high dpi ratings. The tablets would be able to accommodate several ebook software. Notes, presentations, etc. could be distributed electronically beforehand to attendees at a meetings, so that markups could be done on the materials during and after the meeting. I think bigger tablets would be more useful (14" or greater) because users would have more working space, and performing light typing on the onscreen keyboard (even in portrait mode) would be easier. Besides that, you would be able to browse the web, documents on your network, as well as use Windows applications.

    I believe Tablet PCs suffer from 2 crucial problems: their price points, and their lack of an efficient way to enter text in Tablet mode. I believe these problems will be solved with the planned release of several Windows 7 Tablet PCs, expected later this year.
    P. Douglas
    • However the one advantage e-readers hold over tablets

      is that the electronic ink is easier on the eyes. So I think a good solution would be a tablet with electronic ink display.
      Michael Kelly
      • The problem with electronic ink displays ...

        ... is that they are not good for supporting dynamic actions on screen. So many activities (including moving a cursor across the screen) look bad.

        The readability of electronic ink displays is largely due to their relatively high dpi ratings. High dpi ratings in LCDs used in laptops / tablets significantly increase the cost and power consumption of the displays and supporting devices. Maybe slightly greater dpi rated displays and software type manipulation along the lines of Cleartype, can bring tablets closer to the readability of e-readers.

        Another thing which may work out well for tablets, is this emerging <a href=http://www.technewsworld.com/story/57757.html>technology which transmits electricity through the air via magnetic induction</a>. (See a diagram <a href=http://www.popsci.com/scitech/gallery/2008-01/electricity-air>here</a>) It would allow people to roam about with portable electronic equipment, continually supplied by electricity, while untethered. This is however at least a few years away.
        P. Douglas
  • And just like computers...

    ...e-readers are going to reduce or eliminate paper in the workplace.

    Yeah...right. Next myth please.

    :-(
    IT_Guy_z
  • Just buy a computer

    I cant see the benefit of an e-reader over a lightweight
    notebook.

    I can see the benefit of a notebook over an e-reader,
    especially in a business environment.
    Ken_z
  • Faster payoff than that.

    I can't count the number of 1100 page RFP's that I and 13 other people worked on. The payoff would not only be faster but with an indexed document, fewer mistakes.

    skiburger
  • No enterprise adoption until there are security features

    eBooks will not be adopted by enterprises until they start incorporating security features. The risk of data loss is exponentially higher with eBook readers. An investment analyst who loses their briefcase with a printed stack of research reports is bad. Losing a briefcase with an e-book reader filled with hundreds or thousands of pages of investment notes could be devastating.

    The iRex iLiad had a 4 digit password protection feature that you could enable, but no other eBook readers have included even that small security tool. The new devices claim Adobe PDF functionality, yet they can't open password protected PDFs.

    Until these devices have some sort of security provisions, e-book readers will not be a serious part of any enterprise IT solution.
    billblaney
  • RE: 10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

    Without an 8x11 screen, an e-reader in the business
    environment will not be of much value. There are
    other issues too, such as a wireless interface that
    allows people to download the device quickly, wireless
    re-charging, so that downtime will be minimized, and
    more intelligent software on both the reader and host-
    -so that notes can be easily taken, and uploaded, for
    immediate access on the host (ie--user's laptop).

    About half of the reasons in this article don't hold
    water. However, the immense capacity of the memories
    supported (such as the Duo-PRO external memories)
    allow for thousands of documents to be stored on these
    devices.

    The Plastic Logic device, while still in development,
    will likely be the best option for business. There is
    no reason that Amazon, Sony, and others can't provide
    similar features. But until they do, the smaller e-
    readers are really best suited to novels, and text
    with very few graphics.

    wmartin46
  • RE: 10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

    ..... Just 10 reasons?

    More to come, let's open the possibity space together;-)

    - use in urban mobility (schedules in bus/tram stops), see
    http://senseable.mit.edu/eyestop
    - electronic room booking (instead of handwritten room
    info)
    - electronic grades at university (instead of papers printed
    and hanged up)
    - eManual for car manufacturers (printing everything in
    different languages in paper takes a huge amount of
    resources, changing data on demand and show on ePaper,
    such as @Plastic_Logic would be awesome - download by
    demand even in other languages, in case of HomeExchange
    (when foreigners use car)
    - adaptable instructions for home appliances (such as
    washing machine, dish washer, tumble dryer, mower, etc.)
    - ePaper useful for everything written in paper at present
    time that is not used reguarly

    - .....what is the idea that comes to your mind?

    Best regards and innovations always happen when thinking
    outside the box, invite people you would never think of
    asking, create the creative space where conversations start
    and get fuel by ideas that are brought up on the table

    Ralf Lippold

    ...
    Follow us on http://twitter.com/LockSchuppen
    RalfLippold
  • RE: 10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

    ... (at least) 99 other reasons:

    - electronic bus-/tram stop schedules
    (http://senseable.mit.edu/eyestop
    - electronic room schedules
    - automobile manuals (updated and in different languages,
    no need for paper print out, resources saving,
    sustainability!)
    - any instruction in the household (and on demand for
    different languages as well, in case of HomeExchange,
    foreigners or other guests in the house)

    .... what is your idea to bring ePaper into life (not just for
    reading the paper;-))?

    Best regards

    RalfLippold

    ...
    Follow us on http://twitter.com/LockSchuppen
    RalfLippold
  • RE: 10 reasons why e-readers make sense in the enterprise

    yogxha,good post!
    makrekdw1901-24353659478812569841795901425622