As I noted last week, true solutions providers will put “feet on the street” to work with you during the testing/evaluation, buying, deployment and post-deployment stages to ensure your rugged tablets – and every other one of your mobile solution components – actually do what they’re supposed to do. But did you know, your rugged tablet investment can do all of this (if you work with a solutions provider to figure it all out):
- Solve your business problems: Xplore
always advocates that its customers choose technologies based on workflow requirements
first and foremost. Each mobility project is unique, and it should be. Each
company has its own set of issues, challenges and goals, all of which are
additionally influenced by the industry and environment the company operates
in, as well as existing business systems. While many customers choose to use
similar mobile computer models and features – rugged tablets, docks/mounts, bar
code readers, etc. – they each must stitch these hardware components together
differently with their software applications to deal with the specific needs of
their organization. But to get it right the first time a solutions provider
must be involved. They’ll help you ask the right questions and think more
strategically about which technology selections you should make and why. A
rugged computer’s specs can look great on paper, but if it doesn’t have enough
processing power to run your most data-intensive applications for the next 3-5
years or the right I/O ports to connect to legacy equipment in the field,
you’re going to waste time and money replacing those computers and all
accompanying accessories sooner than anticipated.
- Sync with your business systems: The
goal is to solve business problems, not create them. If your back-office
systems or production lines are powered by Windows and you try to mobilize your
workforce with iPads, you’re going to have a costly challenge on your hands. Your
back-office systems run your operations, and probably pretty well. So your
mobile solution should tie into this, not force a re-write. As any solutions
provider will tell you (and Group Mobile emphasizes all the time), it doesn’t
do you any good to spend millions of dollars trying to force mobile hardware or
software onto your network when it was never designed to work in that way.
That’s why there is no “out of the box” solution. A certain level of customization
is always needed in implementing mobile solutions, regardless of whether one
component is being upgraded or all of them.
- Work the way each department needs them to
Many times, an organization decides to implement a single mobility
solution that can reach across all departments in all regions. While
standardization on one rugged tablet model makes some sense in that there is
only one computer to train people on, one set of spares, etc., in other cases it
can be unnecessarily restrictive. If you have multiple field service operations
(meters, transformer repair, supervisors) or public safety tasks (patrol,
detective), they could have significantly different computing requirements.
Supervisors and detectives need mobility, but they also need access to more
programs and more desk time: this leads to the need for rugged tablets with
larger screens and paired keyboards. Whereas, those walking and working, may need
something with longer battery life, more ruggedness, and more portability which
could mean a rugged tablet with medium size screens (around 10”). A solutions
provider knows that before any technology purchase can be made, each end-user
representative must be consulted and included in the technology system design,
implementation, and management. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to make
alternative “solutions’ work to appease the rest of your internal customers –
which can become a losing battle.
- Meet your specific mobility needs: A solutions provider will help you
decipher the value of available feature options and help you confidently
determine which ones are worth the cost and which ones are wasteful, even as
“standard” features. They’ll also help you determine the level of ruggedness or
type of connectivity, security, mounting/docking, and data entry specifications
you’ll need for workflow applications now and in the future.
- Play nice with others and remain relevant
long into the future.
Solutions providers are experts at architecting complete,
future-proof mobility solutions in collaboration with OEMs, ISVs, and IT, among
other stakeholders. They recognize that technology obsolescence is always a
concern, and will do everything in their power to design flexible and scalable
solutions using technologies known for their long-term platform stability.
Their goal is to not only bring a working mobile solution online, but keep it
working without fail for years to come in order to lower the Total Cost of
Ownership and ROI for you. That means ensuring the rugged tablet you choose is
backwards and forwards compatible with software, I/O connected equipment,
wireless network tech, and in-vehicle accessories at a minimum.
- Exceed expectations – long after the sale and rollout are complete. It benefits you to work with solutions providers who have the resources (and partners) to integrate all the pieces end-to-end, not just the rugged tablet, and fine-tune them to your specifications for as long as the solution is online. I can tell you that some tablet manufacturers, and other laptop and smartphone OEMs, find themselves defending “system” failures more often that they should be. It’s easy to point the finger at the brand that’s on the mobile computer in your hand when, in reality, the software your IT department selected without consulting the line of business “customer” is what is underperforming. Again, a solution provider will help you mitigate such issues and resolve any issues “under the hood” quickly when they do arise. Plus, you have to remember that - even though most workers expect technology – field workers and manufacturing workers aren’t always as computer and wireless savvy as a typical office worker. It’s not their fault; they’ve just been used to more manual processes historically. It will take some time – and lots of training – for them to get used to the “new way” of doing things. Many times, encouraging employee adoption of your technology selections (or technology at all) is the challenge that has to be addressed. But, solutions providers are there to help you solve problems. A true solutions provider will work with you to uncover the issues hindering adoption – whether it’s just a reluctance driven by a lack of tech familiarity or an actual usability issue such as the lack of keyboard attachment for data intensive tasks.