Mobile workforces using tablets see an average increase in productivity of 40% and average customer satisfaction and loyalty benefits of 30%, according to new research. But the findings also came with a health warning for IT managers as choosing the wrong device would lead to rocketing management time and costs.
Researchers found every tablet failure costs workers an average of 128 minutes in downtime and that every 1% increase in device failure equated to a 5% increase in TCO for the business. This means businesses using consumer tablets spend an average of 90% of their TCO on support costs, where as enterprise/ruggedised tablet business users are spending an average of just 62% of the TCO on support.
The research, commissioned by Panasonic and carried out by VDC Research, surveyed 186 enterprise mobile IT decision makers and application developers.
Environments most common to frontline mobile workers were: use in direct sunlight (43%), use with gloved hands (28%) and use in wet conditions such as rain (28%).
The top three enterprise tablet requirements from IT managers when considering tablets were battery life (30%), reliability (28%) and security (23%), ahead of price competitiveness (21%).
Of the organisations that have either deployed or plan to deploy tablets to their workforce, 31% saw the mobile devices as a notebook replacement and 20% as a handheld replacement.
>See also: The year for the chief mobility officer
Key recommendations from the research for businesses considering tablet deployment were as follows.
1. Let the application and environment drive tablet selection
Understanding the conditions within which tablets are used is imperative to select the best fitting solution. Issues are far reaching as exposure to sunlight, water, vibration and dust can directly influence the success of the solution.
2. Don’t make tablet accessories an after-thought
Many enterprise tablet solutions are supported by third party accessories such as payment sleds, bar code scanners and others. These add-on devices can represent substantial upfront investments and often can be a key source of failure. Not properly anticipating accessory lifecycles and replacement/upgrade can adversely impact the success and ROI of a solution.
3. Plan for more training than you expect
Especially when migrating from alternative mobile solutions or more manual processes, the change(s) experienced using a tablet can be significant for employees.
4. Prepare for the ‘hidden costs’
Understanding what the support requirements will be for tablets – from helpdesk calls to replacement and upgrades of mobile devices – is critical. Establish and track key support metrics. Poorly designed tablet solutions can result in a post deployment cost – including support and downtime – in excess of 80% of total solution TCO. The cost of supporting and managing a device post deployment is just as, if not more important than the upfront device investment.
5. Focus on sustainable tablet application development
Lifecycle management for not only the mobile device, but also the application and any associated peripherals needs to part of a broader mobile strategy. For more sophisticated enterprise mobility applications, the need for stability and reliability is critical.
6. Tablet battery management is a key requirement
According to VDC’s research, approximately 60% of enterprises supporting tablets indicated their batteries were not lasting the entire shift “Frequently” or “Occasionally”. Better management of batteries, including the ability to replace them in the field and services available to enterprise to better manage and monitor battery performance are all valuable features.