What sort of Mobile Device Choices are there for an Enterprise Mobility Project?
In part due to a lack of real alternatives most enterprise mobility projects in the past have ended up on a rugged PDA using a Windows Mobile OS. Today the landscape is starting to change and the choices more complex so what are your options?
Stick with a Windows Mobile .NET PDA
Well known mobile phone device companies do not seem too interested in designing rugged hand held terminals. So the manufacturers specific to the enterprise mobility sector have adopted many of the features of consumer devices and rolled them into their own products. The ones that sell in volume are now called “Enterprise Digital Assistants” like the Motorola ES400 which looks more like a chunky smart phone than something specific to a unique market. Users are still finding this a good option especially for refresh situations or where the application process is well understood.
A series of industry mergers has reduced the number of large active manufacturers specific to this segment although every year another ODM appears from the far East so it appears there are actually more vendors than ever. All of the top tier enterprise mobility device vendors actively use two tier distribution to get their product to market so price competition at reseller level is intense.
Use a desktop OS in the field
Organisations have been using versions of Microsoft desktop OS in field based enterprise mobility projects for many years. Where keyboard input a larger screen computing power and remote data storage are important many users have opted for units such as rugged laptops.
Intel’s Atom chipset has helped manufacturers come up with rugged tablet pc products that have more powerful computing power larger than PDA size screen and use Windows 7. For many the attraction is an OS that they are already familiar with in an attractive package that they may already have apps optimised for.
Try something new
The plethora of smart phones using Android and iOS has given many users the opportunity to use a new class of less expensive feature rich portables. It has also led to many questioning the whole paradigm of total lifetime cost Vs the perception of how rugged a device needs to be in the hands of a mobile worker. These units are eating up traditional phone market share and are already challenging the enterprise mobility notion that Microsoft on a rugged PDA is always best.
The increasing popularity of mobile application development using HTML 5 is making available more business process orientated apps. Old school manufacturers are also likely to adopt Android and bring new products to market. This month Honeywell a manufacturer in the enterprise mobility sector launched an Android version of one of their traditional products.
We have touched on a few of the many factors to consider. The key point is not to let the choice of hardware dictate what is best for your project. Always start with a thorough understanding of what your business problem is first consult widely and only then start to consider which device will be the best investment long term.