Making mobile transformation fit business models

Mobile computing technology enables operators to save time, increase productivity and streamline business processes. The key challenge though for enterprises is to select the right device for their needs.

While it may appear to be a cost-saver upfront, using consumer-grade devices in the enterprise environment entails a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). VDC Research estimates the average annual TCO of a ruggedised mobile computer is 44% lower than the average annual TCO of a non-rugged, consumer-grade small form factor device.

>See also: The digital transformation of things

This is because over the course of five years, the cost for hardware will only account for 10% of TCO, and that of less obvious operational costs – such as productivity loss, opportunity loss, IT support, or repair – will make up 90% of the TCO.

When compared to a standard consumer device, however, a business’ needs are vastly different. Whether used on-site or in the field, a business has a far greater need for reliability, connectivity, security, ergonomics and durability in its devices. It’s also important that it doesn’t need replacement every twelve months.

Organisations of every type and size need mobile devices to leverage the connected world for innovation, efficiency and savings. More than simply finding the right device, businesses must carefully consider their specific needs, ensuring that they can become as smart and connected as the world we live in.

Operating with the right system

While mobile computers need to have the form to suit their business use, it’s also important they can offer a wide range of modern functions. This means the choice of operating system (OS) has also become an important factor for businesses to consider.

>See also: Preparing your business for a digital transformation

With support for the dominant Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld OS coming to an end, companies will increasingly need to adapt their mobile applications to new systems, and must do so without sacrificing security or reliability.

In order to help companies manage this transition, Zebra created MX Extensions, a solution which fortifies Android for enterprise and allows companies to protect their devices and apps with a range of security measures. These include authenticating users, controlling apps, managing software updates, encrypting data and more.

A form that’s fit to function

Baxi, a leading manufacturer and service of gas boilers, sought to undertake a mobile transformation to empower hundreds of its field engineers. While researching the market, Baxi field tested several consumer-grade devices, including smartphones and tablets. While these devices offered the modern operating systems, large screens, and multi-function experience expected from today’s mobile devices, their fragility in the face of day-to-day work revealed they were the wrong tools for the job.

>See also: 4 market forces driving digital transformation in manufacturing

Instead, Zebra equipped Baxi with its TC75 rugged touch computers, which were designed with the realities of field work in mind. With high-resolution screens, excellent volume and sound quality and fast processors, they provided all the appeal of a consumer device, while crucially being built to last.

Tumble-tested and boasting a 2.4m military standard drop rating, the TC75 would function consistently and over a long period of heavy use. These devices enabled Baxi engineers to add a raft of new functions in the field, scanning barcodes whether they be dirty or damaged, acquiring customer signatures, playing videos and sat-nav directions.

Making update and integration effective

The final consideration for any company wishing to effect a mobile transformation lies in ensuring that a new mobile system can be integrated into a business as seamlessly as possible.

Mobilising a workforce represents a major opportunity for far-reaching business transformation, but it also requires significant training, integration with existing systems and roll-out if the value is to be realised.

True transformation means not just mobilising existing processes, but re-evaluating how processes, people, devices and data interact to deliver new value to customers, employees and the business.

>See also: 5 steps to digital transformation using GIS

Working with a trusted partner, one with an extensive understanding of mobility, and experience enabling enterprises to have more real-time operational visibility, can be a vital aid to companies looking to take these steps.

With its broad range of differentiated products, deep understanding of its customers and R&D teams focused on B2B solutions, Zebra is perfectly positioned to help companies identify and implement relevant, effective solutions when building their intelligent enterprise.

An effective mobile transformation is more than simply the business-wide uptake of a new technology. At its most effective, it offers the most valuable competitive edge for business: real-time visibility that is visionary.


Sourced by Andy McBain, head of regional EVM Product Management and App Partners – EMEA, Zebra Technologies

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...