Enterprise Mobility, Rugged Devices, and the Future

From TCO to Improved Mobile Device Management, How Rugged Can Win back the Enterprise

Rugged devices and enterprise mobility have gone hand-in-hand since the beginning of durable mobile computing devices. The idea of manufacturing special, professional-grade electronics that are built to take a beating and still perform was exactly the impetus to empower mobile workforces who work under intense conditions. It should be a relationship that continues to last for generations to come. Only, the first signs of impending separation have begun to rear their ugly heads. Do rugged devices and mobile enterprises have a future together.  Alternatively, are consumer electronics swinging in to sweep mobile device management off its feet?

The BYOD Advantage—and Disadvantage

Allowing employees to use their own consumer-grade devices has its benefits.  If you work in an office and your idea of “enterprise mobility” is replying to urgent emails while you’re eating tacos on your lunch break. In more demanding fields, particularly where mobile device management is a must, they offer little advantage to the company aside from a lower upfront cost. Instead, the benefits they offer are largely for the end user. Because their lifespans tend to be shorter, consumer devices keep up with the quickening pace of technological advancement.  This is where rugged devices can fall behind when it comes to RAM, processing power, wireless speed and reception, and more. They are also typically  more comfortable to hold and easy to use. This is important to many employees who rely on these devices.

How Rugged Can Win the Enterprise Back

The biggest value proposition of any rugged device is its low TCO—and this may also be its biggest disadvantage. True, the total cost of ownership over time is lower, but the upfront cost is higher.  Asking people to understand the value of a reward they won’t experience until some future date is challenging on a psychological level. Instant gratification, anyone? As a result, rugged manufacturers need to step it up. Emphasizing the benefits of improved mobile device management possibilities is a good place to start. But it can’t end there. More intuitive interfaces, especially on the endlessly-customizable Android OS, combined with ergonomic designs will also bring rugged devices to a new level. If  people feel good using them, they’ll be more likely to use them over their more delicate consumer-grade cousins.

Finally, future-proofing is the big thing. No one will want to use a device that they suspect won’t be able to run updated versions of the applications they rely on day-to-day. If you build a device’s exterior to last for X number of years, putting the same lifespan on its circuitry and providing timely firmware updates is a must. This is how enterprise mobility can be won over—by redefining the value of rugged devices to mobilized workforces.


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