Enterprise Devices or Consumer Devices? The (Different) Debate

Enterprise Devices or Consumer Devices? The (Different) Debate 1250 5139 ScanOnline

They’re everywhere and anywhere; consumer mobile devices have been integrated into the workplace and that’s nothing new.  It has become automatic to consider the smartphones and tablets that have been used outside of the office as a easy integration into the workplace from a user experience perspective because, after all, we all use cell phones and know the OS.  We have all evolved from the noble beginnings of Apple’s earliest offerings – whether ever owning an iPhone or not since keeping up with the times and the latest and greatest technologies required it.  Slowly, the application of smartphones into our workday meant more than just phone calls, emails and text; it included document manipulation, signature capture and data entry, among others.  They help the not-so-tech savvy worker be just that; able to be tech savvy, yet mobile.

But, there are some serious questions to ask about your true ROI and value when you get a consumer device over an enterprise grade device:

  • Do your consumer devices truly unlock the potential to work on-the-go, meaning at what capacity can you actually complete tasks, from start to finish, in whole?
  • Can these devices stand the test of time physically in rugged work environment and last longer than a few plummets out of your pocket?
  • Does your consumer device include the technical functionality typically seen in enterprise positioned, mobile devices, such as barcode/RFID scanning and/or push to talk communication?
  • Battery life important to you?  How long does your phone or tablet last when constantly operating it?
  • Security of devices and securing your critical business information – is this a paramount concern of yours?
  • What about workforce applications and data collection programs that make work simple – are your phones compatible to enterprise management systems, capable to automate operations, run your ERP’s and more that make your business run?

The last question above, in combination with the others likely is answered this way by many:  You’re not able to do your job the same way as you travel as you would be at your office, at your industrial worksites, and/or wherever fixed steps of your business processes live.  Business can be much more productive if cell phones and consumer tablets, like iPads are not the chosen path for mobility, but rather enterprise devices that integrate their capabilities and so much more.

The total cost of ownership for a consumer device versus an enterprise mobile device for that reason is worse.  Enterprise mobile devices are purpose built to do more for all areas of your business; from manufacturing and warehousing, to corporate offices and workers in the field, enterprise devices have the agility and flexibility to be the extension you were always looking for to operate away from your desk and/or work department.

You would be surprised at how easy it is to use enterprise focused mobile devices in many case, which makes it hard to believe those that fear change or already struggle with the tech they (somewhat) know that consumer devices are safer bets.  In most cases, the enterprise device operates nearly the same, especially that now many operate with the most updated Android OS at the time of deployment.  Purpose-driven workforce platforms are fundamentally changing how tasks at work are completed, but often they are only available through Windows or Android OS; apple users are left out in the cold.  Plus, to fully realize their capabilities, mobile workforce software often requires a device that is capable of handling real-time business activity, including barcode, RFID and RTLS abilities that help track and manage inventory, people, shipments and more in order to keep databases accurate to the second.  On many enterprise-class mobile devices, outbound calling is made available, dependent only on a service provider contract, which narrows the divide even closer between both consumer and enterprise tech.

So, on to the other side of the debate – the consumer device users in today’s workforce.

Everyone’s definition of the smartphone and tablet today for what it does for them is never the same, nor should it be.  Consumer mobility can be all things for one person and mean very little to another.  It is for this reason also that consumer devices are built to be all things for all people, which isn’t wrong.  Smartphones, for one have grown to be more intuitive and speak to the beginner, while allowing for the same user to develop their skills and understanding for what the device can do for them.

Apps for smartphone and tablet users play to the masses as well; the most popular being social media outlets, which seem to expand their features almost quarterly.  In some ways, the smartphone’s evolution is closely tied to that of the modern app; backlighting and camera light strength have been enhanced for one over the years because of the amount of users who report using their phones to guide them in the dark.  Flashlight apps had propelled that notion.  Facebook, the most widely used social media platform today has led some manufacturers to build physical functions around user tendencies and create default settings within operating systems as selling points.  With this in mind, consumer facing, or let’s say consumer focused apps found in either iOS or Android can sometimes be best viewed and run through consumer devices vs their enterprise counterparts.  Businesses may take it a step further, through mobile device management platforms to limit or lock users from accessing apps they may deem as unproductive.

But, when it comes to getting the job done at work, smartphones are a lighter version of what enterprise devices can do.  Price and availability maybe the only true argument, outside of slight differences in user learning curve and adoption rates that make smartphones a viable option.

With the idea that so much of what we do daily can be connected through the strengths of the Internet of Things (IoT), the extremely powerful wireless networks of today and workforce specific software solutions for integrating all facets of business and data collection together, you need enterprise-grade mobile technology that meets this reality.  If you’re not, your completion just might.

But, don’t take just our word on the power of enterprise mobility.  This short video and Zebra’s dedicated webpage can shed more light: