How to Choose Mobile Hardware

By Dani Magestro
Updated: May 30, 2012

How to Choose Mobile Hardware

Right now mobile hardware is literally flying off the shelves and into IT departments’ hands. They are testing each piece of hardware to see how their company can benefit from using them. Being on the go is a must in almost any profession but the important question is whether mobile hardware can actually deliver results and provide value to your organization. From an enterprise standpoint, tablets are hot, but they may not be right for your company. Just because tablets are popular and becoming a must-have accessory doesn't mean they are a good choice if they are of no help to your company. Having tons of mobile hardware but no real functionality is a waste of money.

Mobile hardware should be chosen based on a few key factors. The three most important are security, functionality and price. Security seems to be the biggest concern as more and more companies are looking for mobile hardware solutions. It used to be that the only mobile security concern was an open wireless network while using a laptop or smartphone. Now IT departments have to worry about hackers sneaking in any way they can, whether through a wireless network access point or by physical access to a mobile device. When your salesman is running around with mobile hardware and using an app that contains your proprietary information, you now have another point of entry to be concerned about, and the problem gets worse if your data becomes compromised.

The next factor to look at when choosing Mobile Hardware is functionality. Everyone loves a touchscreen but is it practical for your employees? Luckily technology has made touchscreens very durable unless dropped. If your employees are going to be typing a ton, a touchscreen device may not be your best choice. Different positions within your company may have different needs. Keep this in mind when testing out different mobile hardware devices. Functionality and durability go hand in hand because of the inherently fragile nature of some mobile hardware. The key is training your employees to use the mobile hardware correctly and keep it safe, which includes using the correct cases as well as behavioral concerns such as not leaving the items in plain sight when traveling. The risk of theft is huge for mobile devices.

So what about training? When it comes to functionality you need to look at your demographic and see what types of training programs will be needed to educate your staff. If your staff consists of seasoned sales people who are used to being on the go and on top of technology, the training may not have to be very in-depth. If your staff consists of people who begrudge even using a computer, you may have to rethink your strategy and come up with a solution to teach them about the mobile hardware without intimidating them. This adds to the overall cost of the mobile hardware in the end so be careful when choosing super high tech devices.

Budget and cost are one of the biggest reasons IT Departments hold back in purchasing mobile hardware.  It used to be simple when it was just do we need a desktop or laptop? There were no factoring decisions beyond that. Internet was a given in the office and when traveling with a laptop. Employees could go to cafés or just use the laptop at the hotel. Now with mobile hardware we have to factor in the cost of transmitting data while mobile, limits and data caps, and coverage charges. We not only have the hardware to budget, but baseline fees, usage fees, service subscriptions and insurance as well.

Is cost a hindrance? It could be, but mobile hardware could also save you money in the long run. Mobile hardware is replacing the need for employees to call in to the home office for information or having to access information on a bulky laptop while traveling. They get instant access to your company's data and can therefore be more productive. This is something to consider when choosing a mobile hardware device. Will this device replace the current method used to gather data? Will it save time?

Eventually, the savings in using mobile hardware will begin to outweigh the initial start-up costs such as contracts, additional monthly fees and other necessary items. The idea of replacing a $400 device should it be stolen with a $1500 laptop seems easy enough when it comes to making that decision. After taking all this into consideration, where does your company fit in? Has your budget kept your company back from gaining key leverage in the past? ? Have you evaluated and weighed the costs versus benefits in profiting from implementing a mobile hardware solution? These area all great questions to ask after you decide that your company wants to look at a mobile hardware solution.

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