This is the first in a series of four blog posts on mobile devices.
Navigating The Mobile Device Maze, Part 1: Applications, Data Capture and Power
As businesses become more reliant on mobile communications, virtually every organization faces a question that, chances are, you also face. How do you choose the right mobile devices for your operations? It’s a simple question, but the answer isn’t so simple. It depends on a number of factors, starting with what kind of business you’re in and what you’re asking your mobile technology to do.
The Mobility Maze
Different environments and different tasks require different mobile device solutions, a situation made more complicated by the dizzying array of mobile device options available. There are consumer-grade devices like today’s ubiquitous smartphones and tablets. There are enterprise-grade devices like powerful, ruggedized mobile computers. Both these options have their place in business environments. But there’s no question. Whether you’re in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, hospitality or healthcare business, finding the best mobile device option can be a complex undertaking.
Uncomplicating Your Choices
In this series of short discussions, I’ll give you a succinct overview of the 10 most important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right mobile devices for your organization. Here’s the first three.
Application and Environment Demands
The first step is matching devices with the environments they’ll be working in, and the applications they’ll be running. In an office environment where the need is for basic voice communications and online connectivity, a consumer-grade device will often fill the bill.
In other environments, however, mobile communications can be more challenging. At an airport, you’ll need tougher, more versatile devices. You need devices with integrated scanners for baggage handling, and ruggedized construction to withstand weather conditions ranging from direct sunlight to rain and snow, and rough handling like drops to the tarmac and being sprayed with de-icer. On construction sites, you’ll need devices with touch screens you can use while wearing gloves. In hospitals and clinics, your devices must be disinfectant ready.
Data Capture Requirements
Many different types of organizations, such as retail or transportation and logistics, utilize applications that require versatile mobile devices for varying data capture needs. In a T&L business, for example, drivers may need mobile devices to capture truck metrics such as tire pressure and fuel efficiency, as well as to download, transmit and print bills of lading and capture customer signatures electronically.
In retail environments, front-of-store mobility may call for mobile computers that have a magnetic stripe reader and signature capture for secure credit card processing, as well as the ability to do light scanning using sleds or snap-on units. Mobility needs in receiving, shipping and inventory management areas require devices with integrated scanners for faster, more powerful scanning capabilities.
Few problems affect productivity as significantly as mobile devices that run out of power in the middle of a shift. In manufacturing operations, mobile devices are often handed off from one shift to another and workers need fast access to newly charged batteries. In these environments, you need enterprise-grade devices with the capability of replacing batteries, and the ability to hot-swap a battery in the middle of a session without losing any data.
In healthcare institutions, mobile voice and scanning devices must have fully charged batteries when they are handed over during changes in shifts. In patient care, the last thing you want is a vital communications device without power. Power demands can also affect how many backup devices you will need, which can be a significant expense.
At Zebra, we’re here to help you sort it all out. We’ll help you find the best devices for your specific requirements, and give you confidence that there is light at the end of the mobility maze.
Amanda Honig is the Americas Product Marketing Manager for Handheld Enterprise Mobile Computers at Zebra Technologies. Amanda works closely with Zebra’s product development and global marketing teams to introduce new mobile computing solutions to customers across all industries.