In a device-centric world, few can resist the many forms of connectivity competing daily for our attention and dollars. Force-fitting those devices into an enterprise environment poses a number of challenges, not to mention significant hidden costs.

Channel Partners

October 13, 2014

5 Min Read
Understanding the True Cost of Consumer-Based Mobility

By Mike Jachimiec

Today, mobility has become table stakes, allowing companies to achieve greater levels of productivity, efficiency and customer service. By 2015, enterprise mobile workers are expected to be using almost 500 million mobile devices, according to February 2013 data from VDC Research. But with the rush to embrace mobility for critical line-of-business applications, many are inadvertently sabotaging their own efforts by selecting the wrong technology. At the top of that list? Consumer-grade mobile devices.

The allure, frankly, is understandable. In a device-centric world, few can resist the many forms of connectivity competing daily for our attention and dollars. Force-fitting those devices into enterprise environments such as warehouses and construction sites poses a number of challenges, not to mention, significant hidden costs. Here are just a few of them:

  • Rapid device and technology obsolescence

  • Need to purchase necessary peripherals, software and services

  • Device downtime directly impacts productivity and customer service

  • High expense of device replacements instead of repairs

Industry analysts from leading industry analyst firms like VDC and others agree that consumer smartphones increase total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 50 percent compared to ruggedized, purpose-built devices.

Let the Buyer Beware

By letting your customers invest in consumer-grade devices, they will likely be stuck with a one-size-fits-all solution, forcing you and their organizations to adapt to undesirable or inconvenient “features” that simply don’t work well in a complex, multienvironment, multiworkflow operation. To meet even their most basic demands, they may also be forced to purchase additional components to augment these devices.

Do they need capabilities like reading barcodes, taking payments, powering through a full shift, sharing devices or surviving a drop without cracking the device screen or internal components? Consumer technology simply is not well suited to meet these very real enterprise requirements. While smartphone barcode reader applications have improved, they simply can’t meet a diverse set of user requirements. They don’t have a dedicated camera or imager and can’t read barcodes quickly, at a distance or accurately if they are damaged. Enterprise-class mobile computers, on the other hand, have dedicated scanners, support multiple users and are built specifically to capture and load information quickly and efficiently.

The Power of Purpose-Built Design

Enterprise-class devices offer rich benefits that add lasting value to both your customers’ businesses and their bottom lines. So, before you recommend a specific mobile device or platform, ask yourself:

  • What are the right devices for the right jobs? Do they need additional protection from real-world abuse? Do the devices need a built-in scanner, or a hard keyboard? Do the mobile workers need devices to function hands-free all day?

  • Are they ergonomic? Safe for the users’ environments?

  • Does the operating system accommodate the applications I need to make my customers’ workers more productive and efficient? Do I need to capitalize on the growth in the “app” market?

  • Do they provide the reliability and security required to protect business-critical data?

  • Do your customers need extra control over how long they can purchase the product? If the product availability unexpectedly ends, will that impact their business?

Workers who spend eight hours a day, all day, in the warehouse or driving a truck need ruggedized hand-held mobile computers that are task-specific and use ergonomic keyboards and easy-to-read screens to improve productivity. Mobile operators or field sales/service teams need enterprise tablets with a large screen and the horsepower to support additional graphic-intensive applications and voice capabilities. For order pickers and other job functions where it’s difficult to juggle a mobile device or paper task lists, hands-free wearable mobile technologies make an ideal accessory. No longer having to struggle with un-holstering and re-holstering a scanner while trying to pick and carry product at the same time, warehouse workers can do their jobs faster, safer and with fewer mistakes. Only purpose-built technologies can accomplish these goals.

A Smart Choice

Enterprise mobile devices are built tough. They are rugged, durable and designed to work reliably in the toughest environments. A dropped device will not shatter screens or interrupt work flows. Water, ice, salt, sand, heat, blunt force impacts — they are designed to withstand all of these and keep on working. Devices should be selected based on the environment and the work that needs to be accomplished in that environment. Smartphone technology is cool, but one drop on a concrete floor and business-critical work would come to a complete stop.

Enterprise devices are built to last longer, don’t break as often and are easier to repair. As you would expect, increased durability also increases costs, but for most applications the investment pays huge dividends in the future in decreased repair costs, reduced downtime and increased customer satisfaction.

The Right Tools for the Job Required

You wouldn’t give a construction worker a rake to dig a hole or a warehouse picker an extension ladder to load and haul boxes off a shelf. It’s very important to arm workers with the right tool for the job to ensure it’s done correctly, efficiently and safely. The same holds true with mobile device technology. While everyone wants the latest and greatest capabilities that consumer devices deliver, they also want technology that helps them work smarter. Designed to meet mass demand, consumer technology will never provide the security features or stand up to the rigors of continuous use. And shoe-horning those into the operations of your customers will end up costing them more money in the long run.

Mike Jachimiec is vice president, North America enterprise channels, for Motorola Solutions. He is responsible for driving vertical sales through North America enterprise channel solution partners and independent software vendors as well as leading all aspects of the governance and education programs. Jachimiec has more than 25 years of experience in sales and sales management utilizing value-added solution selling concepts with both channels and end users. He previously was vice president of global channel sales at Psion Corp.

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