For the last several years the topic of MDM has filled blog posts and news articles. With all the enhancements to operating systems and hardware platforms, I often hear the following question, “Do we still need MDM? And if so why?” The simple answer is YES! While many device and operating system manufactures are building some of the common MDM features into their products the fact is that there is no standard and it is almost impossible to get any organization to standardize on a single product set. As a result, IT organizations need a tool that will enable them to manage a broad range of devices from a single console. The solution is one of the many MDM tools available today. By managing all devices from a single console, IT managers can ensure that their entire asset population is adhering to the same security policies, running on a single version of the devices OS and easily access device health and usage data.
Include users from all areas of the business
More often than we like to admit the key decision markers for many mobile projects are limited to the business heads and IT. However, experience has taught us that the most successful implementations include users from all business functions including field workers. Including a wide range of user groups helps to ensure that all of the business requirements are captured and also goes a long way towards achieving buy in and support for the project.
While mobile computing devices get most of the press these days, it is the mobile applications that are at the heart of every mobile computing solution. It is the application that defines the business logic, user interface and information exchange. When selecting a mobile application there are a number of considerations that you should take into account.
With the proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers the mobile computing industry is going through another transition. Unlike the previous major technology refresh we experienced when the industry transitioned from DOS devices to Windows CE and then Windows Mobile, this transition is more complex. This complexity is the result of multiple operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows 8 and others, competing device manufacturers with multiple form factors and feature sets, not to mention mobile peripherals that bring additional functionality and durability to consumer class devices. While having greater choices is generally a good thing, these choices have a cascading effect on the other elements of the mobile solution such as device selection, application selection, product life cycle, and support requirements. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
Google followed up the release of Google glass with the recent release of an android based smart watch. Samsung released a similar smart watch on the same day. While miniaturization is the typical technology trend and often leads to new product categories, smaller is not always better. Take for instance smart phones. As the technology improved over the last 10 years, phones shrunk in size. However, in the last 12 months we have seen this trend reverse as users began to use these devices for a wider number of applications and as such demanded larger displays. The new smart watches will likely follow a similar product path. As they gain adoption users will identify new usage models and applications that will be limited by the small display and user interface, thus requiring larger devices or supporting products. And this is where mobile will likely transition from a single device (smart phone) to a network of personal devices that work seamlessly together in order to meet users ever increasing demands.
At first glance consumer smart phones are significantly cheaper than traditional ruggedized enterprise mobile computers with similar specifications. There are a couple reasons for this difference including ruggedizing a mobile computer requires more engineering and material thus demands a higher cost. Additionally, the sheer manufacturing volume of smart phones enable manufactures to leverage the economies of scale and thus lower the cost. However, the most significant reason for the end user price difference is that wireless carriers subsidize the device cost in order to attract customers to sign multiple year contracts for their voice and data services. This works to the benefit of enterprises that require wireless data and can utilize smart phones for their mobile needs. However, there are additional cost considerations that need to be considered such as device replacement cost and peripheral costs. Smart phones are not built to withstand excessive drops or weather. As such, if you are operating in a harsh environment you should expect a higher device failure rate that than of an enterprise class device. In addition to device replace cost, you need to consider user down time and customer service levels into the equation as device failure equates to lost productivity. The second consideration is the cost associated with any required peripherals that are required to support the smart phone. Peripherals such as barcode scanners, cases, specialized cables and battery charging equipment can significantly increase the overall cost of a consumer smart phone deployment. The facts are that consumer smart phones have significantly expanded the user base for mobile computing applications and are suitable devices in many cases. However, the prudent buyer evaluates the total cost of ownership before making a selection.