To Be Clear: Consumerization Just Isn’t Right for All

I want to go back to an issue I brought up in an earlier blog regarding Strategy Analytics’ latest prediction that device consumerization is coming this year within the mobile workforce. In particular, I feel more explanation is need as to my concerns that unintended consequences could be in the cards for employees, in certain LOBs (Line of Business), that run the risk of being nudged towards choosing consumer smartphones or tablets without recognizing the total cost of ownership associated with the limitations of such mobile devices.

To clarify, I’m not knocking companies that vote for Blackberry or really any other “business” positioned consumer mobile device. For some jobs in some industries, an iPhone or Android smartphone is perfect and more than plenty. In fact carrying such a consumer device may even have that “hip” factor they need to build credibility with clientele. Think front of store retail. But if we’re talking about where the majority of today’s mobile workers live – public safety, utilities, manufacturing, natural resource, even healthcare– then we’re talking about mobile “offices” that are on the move. This could mean a vehicle, in a mine underground, on a power pole or in the line of fire. In those cases, a device that will shatter like a mirror the second it is dropped will take your worker down with it. Given how devastated many of us get if Facebook or Twitter go down a few hours, I can only imagine how we – as bosses or as workers – will react when we can’t finish a job that will make us money or directly impacts that customer satisfaction rating. Workers may think a broken device will give them a hall pass for a day or two, until that hall pass costs them income or even pays them in overtime when they do get back online and find a backlog.

consumer devices

Plus, the survey also found that more businesses are using tablets to view documents, email and presentations. Basic job requirements. So why not choose a tablet that also lets those mobile workers capture images, scan barcodes, manage inventory, conduct GIS, etc?  Critical job requirements.

Again, this is why I fear too much consumerization may prevent mobile workers from checking the boxes on their wishlist and restrict them from moving beyond just portability to full workflow mobility capabilities.  So, in response to Strategy Analytics’ enterprise mobility predictions, I beg the question: Will the bigger piece of the mobile device pie go to consumer devices – or the right devices for the job at hand?

While we’ll have to wait to see how things are sliced at the end of 2015, I just hope organizations don’t overlook the ingredients key to mobile workforce sustainability and happiness :

  • Seamless workflow accessibility across the office, vehicle and field
  • Security
  • Element-proof (whether ice, rain, dust, heat, sunshine, chemicals or just the clumsy technician)
  • TCO
  • Increased productivity
  • User acceptance

After all, a recipe that’s missing ingredients is a recipe for disaster. And for that reason, consumerization of enterprise mobile devices can’t take the cake.

See more on this topic in Part one.