Why are more IT managers opting for Rugged Android?

Smart Phones are dominating the mobile device market not only in the consumer sense, but becoming a significant tool to mobilise and connect the workforce of all organisations.

Dominance for leadership position in operating systems between iOS and Android has been neck and neck over recent years.

iOS quickly became the leader in the consumer space and took poll position when Steve Jobs and Apple first released their smart phone iOS and interface to decimate the dominance of Blackberry and Motorola by providing a vastly improved user functionality in 2007. The Apple ecosystem also addressed a core consideration to technical buying decisions by IT Managers being security. Closely followed by evaluation criteria in device selection being user acceptance and affordability to enable more rapid digital transformation. iOS won the leadership position fairly quickly.

From an enterprise IT management point of view however, the Apple iOS ecosystem has its strengths and weaknesses when deploying or releasing updates of business applications to support the mobile workforce. Mobile Device Management platforms and developers constantly complain about the process of handling the ever changing iOS environment and upgrade program, in comparison to backward compatibility offered with the Android operating systems for support.

Phone and device manufacturers servicing diverse industries, including: warehousing; retailing; transport and logistics; and infrastructure management have also widely adopted Android as the operating system of choice from a technical support and SDK point of view.

Until earlier this year the key issue affecting the choice of smart phone / device use in business and government, being concerns around security was tipped when Gartner released their appraisal showing Android as having the highest rating in security being 26 of 30. See below video or download the comparison chart right.

This has been further endorsed by business leaders like Mark Zuckerberg encouraging all his staff to use Android devices for work purposes in May 2019. 

In the not too distant past, I remember a mission critical project, where our client insisted on iOS iPads to be used for mobile patient transportation as their interface. Despite our recommendations to consider something more robust like a rugged and waterproof Windows or Android device deployment. At the time the iPad seemed to be what the paramedics wanted to use – sexy, light and well known and accepted by the general consumer population.

In a very short amount of time following deployment of iOS and iPad, the limitations and impact of this user interface choice quickly created a series of unexpected technical support nightmares for their organisation. Mobile users would without question click on the ‘Software Update’ option in iOS when it appeared on the screen. Causing the custom-built patient data application to no longer be accessible. Therefore reducing the useful fleet and disempowering the field teams. Likewise, purchasing new iPads would not be an option. Given that the off-the-shelf units are preloaded with the latest operating system and the application was still waiting on Apple approval. While iOS offered sufficient data security, the fact that the device fleet was quickly diminished meant that handing the digital transfer of patient data was compromised.

Paramedics would also forget to charge their devices overnight and as batteries cannot be swapped out, the iPad device would be taken offline until connected to AC to charge. Also, despite the use of outer shell, the replacement of units through breakages, new user naivety and increasing technical support overhead became a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) issue. Ultimately reducing the benefit of mobility strategies for the organisation.

Where digital transformation is essential to increase productivity, the user interface being the hardware component and operating system is every bit as important as the software for the users. Yes, training is a huge factor in successful deployments, however there is a lot to be said for investing in the right tool for the job.

Ultimately, for device fleet management, IT managers are directing preference for pragmatic technical support and the Rugged Android OS and Windows OS devices where the handheld, tablet, hybrid or clam provides an essential Smart City and Connected Mobile Workforce function.

One of the most beneficial things we do for clients reviewing their mobility strategy is to work out the TCO for a client’s project when comparing devices. While tangible costs like hardware purchase price, upfront feed, installation and integration costs are easy to establish, it is the intangible that will make all the difference to the business case and device selection for success.

Essentially, IT managers have their work cut out managing diversity in mobile devices. The only way to gain some additional control over the technical support overhead is to constrain the selection of devices in use in the organisation. Now that Android has surpassed the iOS security evaluations, and has become easier to manage user application deployments via MDM or Android Enterprise.

Android, has become the new mobile operating system for lower cost devices and Smart Phone interfaces for corporate system APIs and connected workforce deployments. IT Managers are rapidly steering towards Windows or Android to help to contain their support costs, and now with the Gartner report it is easy to see why.

4D Global is your mobility IT specialists. Get in touch to discuss your mobile workforce and work out the most appropriate device selection including rugged smart phone, handheld and Tablet / Touch and options like GPS/GNSS, RFID, mobile tracking for safety, barcode wedges, MDM, BT, Data management and device security.


Author: Lynette Terrett
Spatial Technologies Director
RapidMap Global

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