Guest Column | January 27, 2014

6 Reasons Purpose-Built Technology Remains The Best Investment For The Enterprise

By Michael Petersen, Director of Enterprise Product Marketing, Motorola Solutions  

Let’s face it, consumer technology is cool. Smartphones, tablets, and wearable computers come in virtually every shape and color and have evolved from “nice-to-haves” to “must-haves” for most of us. In an attempt to stay on the bleeding edge, we will pay top dollar for it despite its rapidly diminishing lifecycle. With a dizzying array of innovative applications and high-definition displays, these devices entertain, educate, and make us more productive no matter where we go. And because enterprise devices tend to lag behind these coveted advancements, we take them to work.

This continues to be a challenge for IT leaders everywhere. Not surprisingly, solution providers try to build enterprise-class solutions around them and manufacturers continue to marry the best of both worlds to meet growing customer demands. Yet when it comes to a device that’s best suited for enterprise and industrial users, the devil is in the details.

There are distinct differences between consumer and purpose-built devices — and for good reason. Devices intended for consumer use will always be optimized for their usage pattern and are generally not designed to last for years of continued daily use. There are six key reasons why purpose-built technology will become more important than ever in both enterprise and industrial environments.

Advantage #1: IP Protection

One simple need has withstood the test of time — device survivability. Drop an unprotected consumer device on the street and you’ll get a shattered screen and internal damage. Drop one in water, and it’s finished. Devices for industrial use are designed with drop and sealing protection typically under MIL-STD 810f and/or IP certifications, which means they can survive multiple impacts from 4 to 6 feet and withstand water at depths of up to 1 meter. They can also withstand the rigors of continued daily use at extreme temperatures and conditions. Some consumer devices tout certifications, but service providers are highly unlikely to back up those claims with warranties.

Advantage #2: Security And Stability

IT needs tools to ensure that corporate data remains encrypted and secure and that the proper protocols are enforced. Enterprise customers need stability and easy migration paths to keep systems fully operational and minimize downtime. How do you bring iOS and Android devices into the mix and keep your system stable and secure? You can’t right out of the box. Ask any enterprise customer of iOS what happens when the next generation of iOS is launched, typically without notice, and users proactively download it. The new version often breaks many of the untested internal applications.

Advantage #3: User-Driven Design

Purpose-built devices not only offer security but a number of other advantages over their consumer and commercial counterparts. Rugged form factors stand up to heat, cold, rain, and dust as well as the challenges of prolonged daily use. Loud and clear audio and speakerphones with noise suppression ensures workers can hear and be heard no matter the environment (equipment/machinery noise, chaos or weather conditions, etc.). The average consumer smartphone has a maximum volume of 90db, roughly the equivalent outside of a truck or the level of ambient noise in a factory. Enterprise-class devices have volumes of 104db, four times louder than consumer phones.

Even more important, enterprise devices are equipped with advanced touchscreens that work when wet and with gloves. Consumer products don’t accommodate either and the companies behind them simply do not invest in that type of technology because it will drive up the costs for all users. Even accessories are designed for maximum durability. With this understanding, solution providers can create even more customer intimacy with purpose-built technology solutions that are designed to work the way end-users work — saving valuable time and providing streamlined and reliable access to relevant information where and when it’s needed.

Advantage #4: Applications Designed for the Enterprise

Devices are really only as powerful and useful as the applications they support. Enterprise-focused applications on purpose-built devices allow IT to lock device screens so users only have access to what IT says they do. This access can be controlled by role and function. That is very difficult to accomplish in consumer products. All applications need to be enterprise-ready and accommodate a variety of operating systems. The power and impact of any enterprise device is directly related to the power and scope of the developer ecosystem that supports it.

Advantage #5: Ongoing Innovation and Visibility

Long-term visibility to product roadmaps is very important in the enterprise space — and something consumer manufacturers will never share. This allows partners to see what’s coming so they can start planning on how to integrate solutions into current systems and beta test with customers. This insight allows customers and solution partners alike to better run their operations. It also allows for the flexibility required to change that roadmap based on new or evolving customer requirements. Phone manufacturers won’t bother to make those types of changes due to the low volume/revenue potential they represent. “Good enough” really isn’t good enough in the enterprise space.

Advantage #6 Dedicated Services Support

Anyone who has had a consumer device break knows just how frustrating and expensive the repair and customer service process can be. Think about the headache if you had to service hundreds of devices at once? Consumer warranties are limited and don’t cover many real-world use cases and accidents so break-fix support represents a huge profit center for device manufacturers. Enterprise-class devices typically include break-fix and repair support in their upfront cost. Enterprise solution providers understand the importance of building reliable products and their impact on business productivity. Enterprise-class products have a failure rate that is typically two to three times less than consumer products. When they do break, vendors learn how to fix them and prevent the same issue in the future.

These advantages show why resellers and customers should carefully evaluate the total ownership experience and look beyond just the initial purchase cost when making their mobile device decisions. To learn more, please visit The Road to Enlightenment & Ruggedized Handheld Devices.