People no longer care if computers contain PC operating systems because their work can be done by mobile devices. What they want is computing systems with industrial reputations which work reliably. In 2012, devices and operating systems are as varied as micro organisms. All of them are contending for enterprise inclusion, most without prior business experience are coming in startup-fashion expecting enterprise approval.
Enterprises are not quick to move on untested brands or technologies. There are many parameters to be satisfied and the batch list to choose from is long and varied. One thing in their favor is relative low entry level costs. Until you decide on a path, you can choose loosely and test randomly. However when you decide on the long term product choice, prolonged existence is a must. Your infrastructure, IT resources, corporate training, user support, application choices, and cost to integrate and implement are not easily replaced. Selection of a stable platform and vendor choices are being filtered by industry. Soon, we will have the “Blue Chips” of the mobile devices qualified and trusted.
Here are a few considerations:
Costs and Plans: Does the device require an Internet data plan from a provider? What is the base cost and the cost fully accessorized to your needs? How many devices are required and what operational benefits are gained? What are the costs of enterprise support, maintenance, replacement and upgrades? What is the total cost of ownership (TCO)?
Multitasking: Does the device let you do more than one thing at a time? Usually this means the user needs to be able to switch from sales order picking to internet queries to email and back and forth. Maybe have all of the applications open and screen swap.
Camera: Does the device support a front and back facing camera with a flash? Can it allow applications like VOIP and Internet meeting sessions to be hosted or joined on the fly?
Processing Power: Processor speed and memory are key to ease of use and productivity. If the speed and memory do not allow enough running fast enough, you may be unable to participate with relative information.
Application Library: Does the device support off-the-shelf industry applications for business in your sector. Do the applications your business depends on operate on the devices in question? Can you develop low cost integration to your ERP? Does what it takes to get it all done give you a roadmap to your future using all interchangeable systems and technologies? Can you be vendor independent based on what choices are available today for your future mobility?
Communications: WIFI and 3G/4G communications for in house and on the road operations. In today’s business environments, dead ended devices are soon a thing of the past and investments of time and money are disappointingly wasted. Learning and utilizing these handheld computing devices can be real productivity enhancers, making sure your investments pay long term so you can realize ROI. Can your selected/available devices connect too your resource library without extra programming and costs?
Accessories: Selecting available options for selected devices and applications may help filter your list to a few emerging standards. Late comers have much to contribute but may not have the resources to stay for the long haul. This is why brand recognition and longevity are top reasons to choose products. Some things to think about for accessories are blue-tooth devices, infrared scanners (barcode reader), docking stations, keyboards, mice, screen resolution, camera resolution, pens and styli, speakers and microphone.
Video Display Quality: Important because both to watch, record and forward captured content is necessary. In the factory or on the road, capturing visually what is happening now can be mission critical to outcomes for both product and company data. Both native resolution and aspect ratios are considerations for making use more enjoyable and productive. If you cannot see clearly what is in front of you and must enlarge for clarity, you lose content and usefulness.
Batteries: Fast becoming a necessary consideration because of their critical impact to the device reliability and cost of maintenance, availability and replacement factors. Batteries are one of the most overlooked resources for mobility devices yet may be the single reason they get rejected for lack of support. Battery life, charging cycles, replacement cost, availability and overall reliability can make mobility decisions painful and costly.
Security: Enterprise security, data integrity and backup and reovery are more meaningful when considering all of the remote access and mobility infractions possible. Secure communications and portals are even more at risk because the data does not flow over only your in-house infrasrtucture with built in virus and intrusion protection. Mobile device security and technologies are not componentized into enterprise end-point protection.
Summary: What works today and will work tomorrow is unknown. The industrial application of these devices is a fairly new science and one which most of us will participate in framing. The advent of cloud and all it promises and delivers makes mobility a must to not only simplify but extend the enterprise by including late or previously non-participants. When a mobile device, light weight and functional can be handed to a user, executive, factory operator, customer and vendor portals opened up, the reach and value is priceless. When all of our enterprise is connected to a single DNA allowing both integrated and disparate systems and technologies to interoperate, we rest better knowing information is both reliable and secure. So is the Kindle Fire for your ERP or another one of those on the market? Your decision will have a lasting valuable impact on your business.
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