In the computer world, "flexible" may refer to hardware, software, or a combination of the two. It describes a device or program that can be used for multiple purposes, rather than a single function.

An example of a flexible hardware device is a hybrid tablet that also functions as a laptop. The Microsoft Surface, for instance, is more flexible than typical tablet, since it can also be used as a Windows laptop. A router that can serve as a firewall for both internal and external networks might also be considered flexible. Instead of being limited to filtering traffic from the Internet, a flexible router may be used to filter traffic within a local network as well.

Horizontal market software, which is used across multiple industries, is a common type of flexible software. Spreadsheet programs, for example, are flexible because they provide a range of uses, such as managing team rosters, tracking inventory, and organizing finances. A professional design program like Adobe InDesign may be considered flexible, since it can be used to create digital layouts for print, web, and electronic publications. Web browser are flexible since they serve many different purposes. Besides surfing the web, you can use a browser to check email, interact with social media sites, play games, and run various web applications.

Flexible hardware and software products provide extra value since they can be used in many different ways. However, flexibility is not always important. In some cases, a device or program designed for a specific purpose can perform a task better than a multipurpose solution.

Updated November 10, 2014 by Per C.

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