Damages must be paid for: why it pays to opt for ruggedised tablets

May 27, 2014 • FeaturesHardwaremotion computinghardwareian daviesrugged

Motion Computing's Ian Davies looks at the true value of rugged computing and why going for the cheaper option is a false economy...

Every IT director and line of business manager looking at a tablet PC deployment will, at some point face the question “why invest in a ruggedised solution when we can get two or three consumer units for the price of one ruggedised tablet and just swap them out if they go down?”  Even allowing for the restrictions of consumer devices in terms of software, operating systems and processing power, the initial numbers can - at first - be attractive.

But, speak to any manager or director who has then faced the issues of deploying and managing non ruggedised hardware and those numbers soon evaporate.  In fact, research shows that the total cost of ownership for non-ruggedised tablets is three times greater than ruggedised alternatives over a three year period.

A recent survey from VDC highlights the causes of this expense in using consumer grade units.  As part of a research project among IT decision makers at 215 companies managing a mobile device deployment, VDC discovered that the leading cause of device failure was that the tablet had been dropped.  The second cause was software issues but this was only marginally ahead of exposure to water and liquid (and just over 1 in 4 tablet PCs will face such exposure). Other leading causes of failure include excessive heat / cold, dust exposure and vibration.

Summarising these factors, when respondents were asked to rank their satisfaction with various tablet features, the level of hardware ruggedisation around dust and water was ranked lowest.  By comparison, satisfaction around issues such as operating system was far greater.  Simply put, we now have the level of tablet deployment that means customers are facing the issues of fragile, non-ruggedised tablets as they fail in the field and that those issues have become the dominant concern, especially for those applications involving wet environments.

We now have the level of tablet deployment that means customers are facing the issues of fragile, non-ruggedised tablets as they fail in the field and that those issues have become the dominant concern

  do such factors around device failure matter?  Because each device failure can cost an organisation upwards of 200 minutes in lost labour - a little under three and half hours.  This can be seen in a loss of productivity, the time spent to redeploy a new unit and the time spent in between with diagnosis and any necessary repair. And it is worth noting that these costs are per device failure - in a fleet of hundreds of units, this can soon amount to weeks of downtime.


Even without incidences of failure, it is worth noting that these softer costs make up a substantial amount of the TCO of a unit.  Initial and ongoing user training, system maintenance, technical support, upgrades and application management all contribute to TCO and for a consumer unit, these can be substantially more than a dedicated enterprise tablet.

However, factoring in the incidences of failure, the research found that IT costs and loss of productivity accounts for 89% of the TCO of consumer grade tablet PCs. To put that into hard figures, on an annual basis, a ruggedised tablet will have a TCO of around €2000.  By comparison a non-ruggedised tablet costs in excess of €4000.  That is despite the fact that the initial hardware cost of a ruggedised tablet will likely be double that of a consumer unit.

Figures such as these show the increasing importance for strong metrics such as ROI and TCO to not only validate investments but to track and measure use of mobile solutions within the enterprise throughout deployment. Furthermore it is clear that, because line of business mobile solutions are often mission critical, organisations need robust and reliable solutions to support them.

It is critical to align the right mobile solution with the users and application environment. But amidst the flood of consumer technologies in the enterprise that has driven a spike in failure rates, it is important to remember that consumerisation of IT all about introducing consumer experiences – NOT technology – into the enterprise.

Recognising this, many businesses now see that the cost of supporting and managing a device post deployment is just as - if not more - important that the upfront device investment.   There is much more to consider than the initial set up costs of the mobile solution. Organisations demand that IT investments deliver tangible benefits and incur predictable costs.  From platform consistency and sustainability, to the impact of device failure in various use scenarios – it is critical to understand the actual cost and impact of your mobile device deployment against the choices available and the increased interest in low cost consumer grade tablets.


Want to know more? Ian will be discussing this topic in further depth at this year's Service Management Expo on June 17th - 19th in London's ExCel. To get your complimentary pass click this link




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