For example, your technicians can’t access geographic information systems (GIS) to map environmental reports into a real-time database to which they were dispatched if their mobile devices are out of operation.
Now, I’ve heard some field service organizations say that they don’t believe enterprise-grade rugged devices are different enough from commercial or even consumer devices to warrant their purchase price. They don’t understand what could be that different.
This too happens a lot when automotive makers talk about the benefits of certain technology features that will save us from those rare but real moments of inattention. Lots of drivers don’t understand how ADAS could possibly work. How can the car know if I’m wandering or want to move toward the lane markings? Whether you understand how it could work or not, it does work in the vast majority of cases. And it is designed to help you when you need it while never removing control from the driver – you can still intervene at the moment it’s needed, if needed.
This is often attributed to a logical fallacy called “Argument from Incredulity” which states “Since I don’t understand it, it can’t be true.”
“Flat earthers,” it might be said, fall for this logical fallacy.
However, failing to trust in the communicated (and proven) benefits of ADAS or enterprise-grade, rugged-to-the-core technologies is highly risky.
Truly rugged devices – the ones needed to keep field service workers online and productive in harsh and remote environments – aren’t made rugged by just adding rubber bumpers to the frame or using a “protective” case. Thousands of decisions made during the design phase of these devices are based on the anticipated field use and decades of experience studying, testing and truly understanding the functional form requirements for certain use cases and environments. Power connectors are hard mounted internally, not just soldered on the printed circuit board, because that has been identified as a known failure point, just to give you one example.
Therefore, a decision about whether or not you, as a service provider, should use truly rugged, enterprise-grade devices should be based on whether or not you have the need for rugged devices at all. You must calculate the value of uptime and the cost of an idled service person and disappointed customer.
Don’t assume that mobile devices sharing the same basic shapes operate the same way or offer the same feature set or workflow capabilities. Purpose-built rugged handheld computers and tablets are designed from the ground up to perform differently, and they will make a world of difference on your organization’s ROI, your customer’s satisfaction and your workers’ happiness.
The 400+ service provider decision makers who responded to Zebra’s “Future of Field Ops” study said it best: the use of advanced technologies to “sense, analyze and act on issues” and the dependable (i.e. rugged) mobile devices that enable these advanced technologies to work to their full potential ultimately yields increased productivity, increased accuracy (first time fix rate) and increased equipment availability. Many actually expect the use of mobile devices to roughly double these benefits within the next year!