Time to Adapt not Discard
How about a fleet of modular mobile computing devices that could be adapted by the workforce to their different needs as they go about their jobs? Sounds like a dream but it’s the reality. It’s time to adapt not discard, suggests Dirk Weigelt.
We have got into a terrible habit in business of refreshing our mobile computing technology every two to three years. As the old English saying goes it’s “Out with the old and in with the new”. I appreciate that there are some obvious reasons that have driven this behaviour. There are tax benefits to writing down assets over three years and not beyond and many technology companies have convinced us that upgrades are important to keep up with the latest advances. But in a world where sustainability is probably the most important watch word for all our futures – is this approach still justifiable?
What if a mobile worker could keep the same computing device by adapting it if they changed tasks or even job roles? What if, rather than disposing of the device, we re-equipped it for other uses and gave it a five, six or even seven-year life span and beyond? Think about the advantages. The workforce is already very familiar and happy with their device, so there is no requirement for new training. The IT team does not have to specify new devices, run pilot projects and work out the new infrastructure needed to support the roll-out of new equipment. The finance and buying team don’t have to spend time and money investing in new product. To my mind, productivity and return on investment could rocket!
Although at first thought, technology channel providers may think less regular change overs of mobile computing might be bad for business, there are also some significant advantages when you look more closer at the potential.
With a more modular computing model that can be adapted quickly by the end user comes a more agile supply chain for the channel. As new orders flow in, the basic model can be quickly customised to any requirements and delivered – helping to meet urgent demand. The channel providers also benefit from a simplified stock holding, with a base modular model and customisable options leading to far less base SKUs. All this adds up to reduced cost, complexity and more flexibility for the channel provider.
One major rugged device provider, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK, has been developing this approach for some time and is accelerating the number of devices it offers with this modular design. The TOUGHBOOK 55 notebook, launched in 2019, set a new benchmark for mobile computing by enabling users for the first time to customise their device for different tasks while in the field.
With its modular design, users can configure their device in up to 11 different ways, while on the move, to suit the needs of their job role at the time. A smartcard reader, additional storage or a DVD or Blu-Ray drive can be added with a simple switch, fit and click into the TOUGHBOOK Universal Bay. In addition, a front expansion area can be used to quickly integrate useful tools such as a fingerprint reader, HF-RFID or regular smart card reader or for the addition of a second battery. For added sustainability and cost efficiencies, all peripherals used with the first-generation TOUGHBOOK 55 remain compatible with the latest device.
The latest version of Panasonic’s best-selling rugged tablet, the TOUGHBOOK G2, is also designed with this type of sustainability in mind. In a similar way, users can make up to 7 modular adaptations.
Our rugged devices already had a reputation for long life use. The longest serving device I heard about had been operating effectively for 13 years! So, the addition of this modular design approach opens up incredible opportunities for flexibility and sustainability.
One of the old arguments for regular upgrading mobile computing devices, particularly for power workers, was the thinking that advances in applications required ever higher performance devices. But even this issue has been addressed with RAM and storage upgrades possible on all the new TOUGHBOOK devices.
With the challenges we face in business and society today, it strikes me that we should be thinking about equipping our mobile workforce with devices that they can keep for the long-term. The flexibility to easily switch the configuration for any requirement, combined with the rugged reliability of the design, makes the latest TOUGHBOOK devices companions for the long-term.
With mobile computing manufacturers and the channel aligned behind this approach, it could make a big difference to the buying cycles of business and make a significant sustainable difference.
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