What kind of vacation planner are you? Once you pick a destination, do you plan out every activity on each day? Do you research the area for attractions, history, and local flavor? Or do you just go, and then see what feels like fun? Since this is vacation season, each style has its own merits. A planned vacation ensures that you see and do many things. An unplanned vacation brings spontaneity, unexpected experiences and sometime a more relaxed time. I’m not here to tell you how to manage your vacation, you’re already an expert at that.
What I do want to point out is how these two vacation planning strategies compare and contrast to the strategies often employed in the rollout of mobile technology to support field service and manufacturing workers, as well as law enforcement and other public safety officers. While spontaneity and a “let’s see what happens” attitude may lead to some great stories if you’re in Las Vegas, they are certainly not best practices in the mobile world. A thought-out and planned rollout is far more likely to be successful. (And you’ll have more happy stories to share as well.) Here’s why:
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, your workers expect to use technology on the job. They demand it, and in many cases will look for career opportunities elsewhere if you fail to deliver a working environment conducive to how they like to work. Plus, paper-based processes and antiquated technology setups can impair employee and equipment performance levels, degrade your market value and stunt your growth. That means you’re somewhat obligated to find technologies that will support your business processes – and an increasingly mobile workforce – long-term, without requiring excessive budget increases or an overhaul of existing business systems.
While today’s technology marketplace is certainly not without options, businesses of all sizes are becoming inundated with arguably too many options. In the computer hardware category alone, you have to decide whether you need a genuinely rugged computer or if you are going to settle with a commercial- or consumer-grade device in your operating environments, despite the risks. Then, you have to determine whether you need a desktop, laptop, tablet, or handheld PC form factor, or a combination of all of the above, to support your rapidly multiplying workflow applications and back-office systems across all lines of business. All without isolating workers who spend their days on the road or in the field from the data or tools they need to do their jobs without delay. That means you need a mobile computer, which defines a whole other set of decision factors (and at the same time disqualifies many PC form factors, narrowing the candidate pool a bit).
But, that’s just one product determination that has to be made; a single component in the scheme of a much bigger and more complex solutions-driven approach that every business should be taking to modern day mobile technology investments. You still have to figure out which computer features are necessary and which software, printers, wireless connections, mobile hubs, peripherals, mounts/docks, security tools (among other industry-specific equipment) you need to complete the solution. Then you have to make it all connect perfectly together so the entire solution works exactly how it’s supposed to within your existing business environment.
That’s no easy feat for anyone, much less those who don’t sell every mobility component and/or specialize in the engineering and integration of end-to-end mobility solutions. Plus...mobile rollouts are complicated. In many cases, companies are embarking on their first-ever rollout of mobile technologies – at least on this scale – and it’s not easy to navigate the thousands of product features and solution variations available on the market any given day. Perhaps that’s why Group Mobile’s* President Darin White has seen the value of planning. No, he’s not a vacation planner, he’s a 16-year veteran of the mobile tech sector. Many organizations today don’t have the right in-house expertise to select the appropriate mobile technologies for the multitude of challenges they’re trying to address (or enough people who know what they’re doing to execute the project on time and on budget). Two guys in a garage selling discounted products that they drop on your doorstep aren’t going to help you figure out which hardware and solution pieces work well together – or help you piece this puzzle together in any meaningful way. Solutions providers, however, will.
Group Mobile’s* Darin White and I took a “coffee break” on July 26 to discuss why you need to invest in the services of a mobile solutions provider as much as the technology itself – if you want your tech investments to payoff. Take your own “coffee break” now and listen to what Darrin, especially, had to say (it’ll be worth your while).
*Group Mobile is an Xplore Platinum Partner.