Our clients often ask us: "What mobile devices should we use, a consumer device or a rugged mobile computer?"
Consumer- vs. Enterprise-Grade Devices
Consumer-grade devices are smartphones or tablets available to the general public, like devices you may purchase from your cellphone carrier. These devices have become advanced computers in our hands. Still, the fact is that consumer-grade devices were not built to be used in harsh environments such as the production floor, warehouse or on a delivery vehicle.
On the other hand, enterprise-grade devices are mobile computers and tablets designed specifically for people working in harsh environments. These workers need larger displays, rugged build-quality, access to replacement parts or service and extended warranties.
This consumer-versus-enterprise argument has endured for years but has not been conclusively resolved, and there are two reasons for this. First, the line between consumer-grade and more enterprise-grade devices has blurred, and, perhaps more importantly, the right choice depends on each organization’s specific work processes, preferences and budget.
Choosing the Right Device for Your Company
If you work in a distribution business, some of the factors you should take into consideration are:
- What environment will the device be used in?
- What will the device be used for?
- How much maintenance and downtime are deemed acceptable?
- Do sales reps depend on their devices to do their jobs?
- What is the expected lifetime of a device?
Consider this, do you constantly drop my phone? Drops are the leading cause of damage to mobile computers, resulting in downtime and lost productivity. Putting it in a simpler context, a mobile phone that will land on a nice carpeted floor of an office when dropped doesn’t need to be quite as rugged as one that will land on concrete.
Likewise, the screen should remain visible in bright sunlight if devices are used outdoors. To this end, environmental ratings are also important considerations if the devices will be exposed to snow, rain, dirt or dust.
Another consideration to take into account is, do you require barcode scanning. If this is the case, using a purpose-made scanner with a built-in scan engine is the better solution. An enterprise-grade device will scan much quicker and more accurately. Scanning a barcode using your mobile phone’s camera is like accessing the internet with a dial-up modem vs a fibre optic broadband connection.
We believe deploying consumer-grade devices in a harsh environment will result in much higher replacement costs, extensive downtime, and lost productivity. Rugged enterprise-level devices will provide a lower TCO and higher ROI (return on investment).
Beyond the device's ruggedness, the following should be taken into account:
- Application Requirements – Most modern consumer devices can run Solid Route Accounting™, while rugged devices often have faster processors, longer battery life, and more accurate barcode scanners.
- Consistency – Enterprise-grade devices have an additional advantage because the manufacturer carefully controls the operating system to ensure reliable operation, with new versions of consumer phones and operating system updates occurring frequently.
- Security – Enterprise-grade devices provide enhanced security features to lock down applications, so users only access what they need.
- Safety – Consumer-grade devices may pose a hazard in some environments, such as those dealing with volatile chemicals.
- Device Management – If your company requires a mobile device management (MDM) solution, many consumer-grade devices, but all enterprise-level devices support most MDM solutions.
The bottom line? By considering your work environment, you can make the right choice by deciding which differences between enterprise and consumer devices.
Solid Route Accounting™ runs on both enterprise- and consumer-grade devices. Solid has tested and approved several enterprise-grade devices for use with our DSD software application.
Please look at our Route Accounting Online Store for approved enterprise-grade mobile devices.