The Mix of Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices in the Enterprise
Has your experience at retail stores been different lately? Or perhaps you’ve had a different experience at a medical facility? Maybe your own work has changed recently. A significant change across industries has been in the number and types of mobile devices being used by all sorts of workers. Whether you’ve completed a sales transaction by signing on a smartphone, or checked in at your doctor’s office using a tablet, there is no denying that mobile devices are proliferating in enterprise use cases.
In most mission-critical mobility deployments, enterprises have deployed rugged mobile computers. Consider the devices carried by parcel couriers, stockroom workers and others. There’s an obvious need for durability, so that these mobile computers can withstand frequent drops, extreme temperatures, and in some situations, hazardous environments (think oil rigs). Technologies that help these workers accomplish their tasks include advanced data capture capabilities, such as barcode scanning, RFID, and perhaps payment transaction capabilities.
As consumers, we don’t often interact with these workers as they complete their tasks. The use cases are not typically consumer-facing. However, there is an increasing contingent of enterprises that are placing more mobility into the hands of workers who are visible, and directly interacting with consumers. These workers are still performing mission-critical activities – particularly in revenue generating roles, for the enterprise.
Over the past few years, companies have explored the evolving smartphone and tablet options for these workers. In some cases, the benefits of these consumer-grade devices have proven not to be the best fit for the business, due to fragility, theft, or other limitations. These enterprises have generally opted to revert to the familiar – the rugged mobile computers that are likely being used in traditional task-based use cases. By contrast, there are enterprises across industries that have chosen and successfully deployed consumer smartphones and tablets into consumer-facing use cases.
There is no denying the selection of enterprise mobility hardware has expanded significantly over the last five years. Whether going with traditional, rugged mobile computers, or consumer-grade devices, it is exciting to see the accelerated adoption of mobility across enterprises – especially as it gets into the hands of the workers with whom we, as consumers, interact. However, this also creates a new IT challenge: Some workers are carrying rugged mobile computers, others have consumer devices. There is overlap in applications and content access as well. For all these users, there is a bottom line benefit to their mobile productivity. Fortunately, Wavelink Avalanche is there to be able to ensure all these users – task-oriented and customer-facing, are optimally productive.
A short post today, but nonetheless interesting. I stumbled upon an article that blends nature and the AIDC industry perfectly into one another…I hope the folks at Zebra are on this!
Posted by Greg Berger
I actually just saw this headline this morning in another popular blog spot and the timing seemed appropriate. We are seeing a huge upswing in the need for organizations to track, monitor and manage personal and business-class devices. Unlike traditional AIDC devices, most business class devices are designed for Broadband first and Wi-Fi second, putting a lot more data on the cellular carrier networks.
I find it interesting that the article talks in terms of market saturation, but what I am also hearing here is the potential for network saturation. One of the things that Wavelink Engineering has spent significant time on is making sure that a multi-modal Mobile Device will choose the best medium for updates, and restricting large updates to only those connections that meet a configurable minimum adapter link speed.
The article also talks about the efficiency and cost-effective nature of text messaging. We thought about that too. We can reach out to a multi-modal device first using SMS messaging to ask it to perform an update without knowing whether Wi-Fi or Broadband is available. When the device receives the message requesting an update, it can automatically choose the best network to perform that update.
Anyway, I’m watching the growth of iPhone, Android and Blackberry closely, and I’ll be curious to see how it plays itself out in the AIDC market.
Not a list of items you would normally come across, I know. But apparently, according to this article, there has been a bit of an uproar on the potential use of barcode images that look like a pack of Marlboro cigarettes on Ferrari F1 cars.
Of course, whether it does actually look like a pack of Marlboro’s is being contested between European anti-tobacco groups and the Ferrari/Marlboro side. On our side of things, what’s most interesting is that if you check out the GoMo link, they mention that the barcode is so realistic, that barcode software actually tries to interpret it! Art imitates life?
Posted by Martin Brewer
Yesterday we talked about some of the basic differences between a consumer grade Wi-Fi device and one made for the AIDC industry (the ruggedized version). Now let’s dig into some more detail.
Vendors of AIDC equipment know that having an industrial grade supplicant is key. So the supplicants they pre-load are built to deal with harsh Wi-Fi environments and the extremes of competing with large numbers of other third party networks.
Supplicants supplied by all the major AIDC vendors handle the example cited in yesterday’s blog posting about our Seattle office with ease. And these supplicants go further…
Posted by Martin Brewer
As many of you have come to find out through the use of smartphones and PDAs with Wi-Fi, that getting connectivity can often be a headache. Although 3G has reduced these woes through better coverage, the truth is that some devices just don’t want to connect to Wi-Fi when you haven’t got the luxury of 3G.
The symptoms are typically that your device connects and then drops the connection and then hunts for another. And sometimes the connection looks promising – you have three or four bars and yet the device comes back and says “unable to connect”. You shrug your shoulders, you move on and it was no big deal.
However, if this was your network and the device has to work, you’d be frustrated. Now, in AIDC, this is precisely the case as it’s a critical business productivity tool on which you depend. To help with this, these devices typically have a more industrial grade radio in them – it might be more sensitive or have greater power. However, the design improvements don’t stop there. (more…)