Nowadays, businesses are going mobile, which is great, if by mobile they mean inside another office. Mother Nature has no respect for electronic devices no matter how pretty they are.
The last thing a sales agent working on a construction site needs is for his tablet to stop working because of heat or dust. Commercial-grade mobile devices are not meant to be in the woods or desert, so why risk a sale on one?
Enterprise-grade tablets are a reality. Many of them are tested to high standards for resistance to temperature, sand, impact and water. Sure they cost more than commercial versions, but the return on investment can prove out for businesses that do most of their work outdoors. Some rugged models have an option for a barcode scanner and battery than can be swapped out without turning off the tablet, thanks to a bridge battery, says Sam Rutherford of Laptop Magazine.
The tough tablets run without fans and are easier to carry and use than a laptop. Most users know from experience laptops run too hot to actually use on a lap. Thatâ€™s not true with tablets.
Using a laptop to snap a photo at a job site looks ridiculous because it is ridiculous. However, a tablet is much more manageable for such as task, and users actually can see the screen without running to a shady spot to get out of the sunâ€™s glare.
Another advantage of the tablet over the laptop is the tablet is automatically easier to protect from accidents and weather because it have less surface area. Thereâ€™s no hinge. Other common advantages of tablets over laptops according to March Saltzman of USAToday are:-
- Faster boot-up times
- GPS included or addable
- Longer battery life
- Voice activation
- No trackpad
A rugged tablet can make checking in shipments off a truck a lot easier than scribbling down numbers on a piece of paper. With a tablet connected to the Internet, tracking inventory can be almost automatic.
Another innovative use for a durable tablet is to take customer orders at a drive-through or at outdoor event such as a festival. With the right accessory, businesses can scan in credit cards, which makes life easier and often increases the amount customers spend.
Artists use tablets to sketch paintings they see in museums, but the same technology can be used to sign documents outdoors with an enterprise-grade tablet. Most commercial package delivery services use this technology.
Some restaurants even hand out tablets to customers to place orders. Doing the same thing with a commercial-grade tablet could require a lot of replacements because accidental destruction.
Back on photography, a rugged tablet with a good camera can really clear up confusion between what the home office thinks is happening and the reality in the field.
Security often is a concern for businesses especially when employees are working in the field. A commercial tablet is not going to have as many layers of security an enterprise-grade model has. Business not only want to secure their data but also assure customers their credit card information is safe at a point-of-sale. Industrial tablets come with better electronics and software to ward off hackers.
Retailer Target is still recovering from the fallout of its 2013 data breach, Jeff Stone of International Business Times recently reported. Although most companies donâ€™t have 40,000 customers, businesses may be better off to error on the side of caution when it comes to point-of-sale security. Target lost a lot of sales after news of the breach came out.
Always More Accessories
Speaking of security, one of the accessories available for the tough Panasonic Toughpad tablet and other popular rugged lines is the Kensington lock. It comes with a 6-foot cable and is easy to install. Itâ€™s like having a bike lock for a tablet. No one will be able to walk off with it.
Users can add software to their tablets that will track who is using the device, where and how. If the device is stolen, the software manufacturer will track the location of the device for the authorities.
Another accessory users wonâ€™t find on common tablets is a powerful antenna. Rugged tablets can be equipped with an external antenna to link to a stronger antenna is say a vehicle to transmit over 3G, says Brian Nadel of Computer World.
Of course, with tough tablets comes an aftermarket for such things as tough keyboards and car mounts. There are USB a versions of the keyboards. With todayâ€™s faster tablets, the addition of a keyboard makes the laptop that much more obsolete.
In todayâ€™s mobile world, businesses should seriously consider upgrading to rugged tablets for their field agents and for other uses in which accidents are likely to happen. The upfront costs seem like nothing in the long run.