Professional mobile devices like tablets are growing in popularity across various industries. But have you wondered if they may benefit your business, as well? If so, how do you start using tablets and similar devices as professional tools?
We've outlined five questions to help you determine how mobile devices may fit into your business, IT system, and IT policies.
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By reading this article, you will learn five things to consider when evaluating or adding mobile devices to your business.
What are mobile devices?
For the sake of this article, we are defining "mobile devices" as tablets of various sizes and functionality without cell phone capabilities.
Some IT providers or teams may define a mobile device as any portable technology—smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. This is not an incorrect definition, but this article focuses only on company-purchased tablets and tablet-like devices.
6 Questions to ask before you purchase tablets for your company
Your IT provider or internal IT team can help you answer each of these questions to select the best device and policy for your company.
1. How do I know if I need a mobile device?
Mobile devices like tablets help employees that are on the move and want easy access to company data. This may include roles like:
- Someone who drives or makes deliveries
- Someone who works the floor of a manufacturing plant, store, or field
- A technician who travels off-site
- Someone who needs to track items or customers as they move through the system
Tablets are lightweight, portable, and easily track and share data even when you're mobile.
For example, a tablet or mobile device can quickly scan items going out for delivery. The delivery person can then use a tablet to scan them again at the delivery site. It allows every item to be tracked as it's handled in real-time.
Tablets and mobile devices allow information to be directly added to or retrieved from your data system as employees travel, interact with a product, or work with customers.
Tablets may also be helpful for employees who transcribe meetings and prefer writing to typing. Users can use the tablet stylus to take notes, and the tablet will translate the handwritten notes into a typed document for easy record-keeping and sharing.
2. What environmental factors play a role?
Environments can influence your need for a tablet or its use in the field.
For example, if you're working in a manufacturing plant, can employees safely use the tablet while avoiding moving parts? Will the employee be driving vehicles or operating machinery?
On the other hand, will the employee use the tablet to interact with customers? In what way? Will the tablet be moving around a great deal or stay stationary?
Essentially, you will want to examine how the tablet fits into the environment and how your employees can safely use it without endangering themselves and others.
Answering this question will help you determine use policies and device management settings.
3. What device management settings do we want?
When you add a tablet, you must consider how you want the device used and what applications or tools can be accessed.
For instance, using the tablet camera can be super helpful in some cases. For example, you can use the camera to take photos of items or shipments to verify proof of delivery. However, some companies do not want their employees to access the camera function for privacy purposes.
You will also consider what applications can be used. For example, will your employees have permission to download apps, or will they need administrative permissions? Can they use the web browser?
Before the device is distributed, you will need to discuss permission settings and device management strategy with your IT provider or team. They must configure these settings for you before employees receive the device.
4. Where will these devices live?
After work is complete, your tablets will need to have a home. Will all tablets be returned to a designated area of your office or shop?
Or will employees take the tablets home with them? If employees take them home, how do you track and manage the devices?
When creating your tablet-use policy, it's important to consider where your device lives and how it is managed outside business hours.
5. How will you integrate, manage, and distribute the devices?
In theory, tablets may sound like the perfect solution for your business, but how will these devices integrate with your unique IT system? For example, how will it access or share data?
You will also need to develop a strategy for managing the device's lifecycle and distribution. For example, how long do you keep a tablet before replacing it? If your tablet is declared End of Life or End of Support, how quickly will you replace it?
In addition, do you plan to have extra tablets in storage but available for emergencies? Or will you only have tablets that are actively in use?
Next steps for adding a mobile device to your business
Mobile devices like tablets can be excellent resources for mobile employees, tasks, and environments.
However, before purchasing a tablet, talk to your IT provider or internal IT team to see how adding tablets may fit into your IT system and IT strategy. They can help you answer questions like:
- How do I know if I need a mobile device?
- What environmental factors play a role in the tablet's use?
- What device management settings do we want?
- Where will these devices live?
- How will you integrate, manage, and distribute the devices?
Your IT provider or team will also help connect you with a vendor to purchase the right tablet and accessories. Often, providers recommend solid and sturdy cases for tablets as they have a heavy drop risk.
Your IT provider or team will also help ensure the tablets have the proper management settings and controls before distribution. However, the first time a device is set up, it may take a couple of weeks. After the initial setup, applying updates and changes take little to no time.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build successful IT strategies and processes while utilizing effective technology.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.
If you're not ready to talk to our team of experts but would like to learn more about IT strategy as it relates to devices, we recommend the following articles: