The mobile workforce is growing despite a challenging economy. From factory to retail aisle, from warehouse to office, from the open road to the customer site, more employees are on the move. Mobile end-user devices – phones, scanners, tablets, handheld mobile computers – empower these workers with the information and interaction they need to transform operations, increase profitability and excel at their jobs anywhere, anytime. According to a 2010 study by J. Gold Associates, “Mobile workers now spend as much as 25-35% of their work day in the field interacting with their portable handheld assistants.”
Consumer devices are traditionally targeted to individuals choosing a device for personal use. The initial price is low (sometimes free!) The brand names may be familiar and desirable. They offer the latest features and often a sleek, attractive, lightweight design. They perform everyday tasks: make calls, handle email, access the web. However, their life cycle may be as short as six months, after which the current models become obsolete and shiny new models take their place.
Enterprise-grade devices are designed and built for business use. Typically, they have a higher initial price. In return, they offer more rugged construction and longer life cycles. They may be optimized for job-specific tasks, or to work with certain system platforms and business-critical applications. Often they include advanced security features, data capture and asset management capabilities, and a consistent user interface – issues that aren’t important for consumers but are vital to a business that wants to optimize productivity.