Although it once dominated the enterprise mobility and rugged mobile device market, Microsoft has largely ceded new development in that space to other platforms. The company’s Windows CE and Windows Mobile operating systems are approaching their end of life, with supporting being phased through 2020.
Users with an installed base of Windows devices will have to transition to a new platform once their current hardware is obsolete. Android has emerged as the most viable option, with major rugged mobile device manufacturers introducing Android-based versions of their handheld and tablet systems.
Migrating to a new platform won’t be painless — companies will need to revamp their application environments, user training, and existing systems integrations to accommodate the change. Below are some important tips to consider when transitioning to Android-based devices.
Bridge the Gap in User Experience
Enterprises typically face skills gaps when it comes to mobile deployments. Because of the labor crunch many companies utilize temporary workers in all types of roles throughout the organization. While many of these employees are familiar with the Android interface via use of their own personal mobile devices, others may be more comfortable with green-screen terminal emulation applications that are common in warehousing and manufacturing environments.
Look for manufacturers that offer a “best of both worlds” alternative — providing a platform to convert TE applications over to Android without losing the familiar interface. That way companies can gain the advantages of new hardware, but can take their time to completely transition applications from TE to a more graphical interface. This also makes the learning curve easier for employees.
Streamline Device Deployment
Enterprises typically have a lot of different needs/preferences for mobile devices across the organization — from the warehouse pick station to the forklift, the shipping yard, the field service truck, and the corporate office. This leads to the deployment of a wide array of operating systems, versions, and form factors.
This cobbled-together mobile ecosystem makes it expensive and time-consuming to individually certify and deploy new applications on each type of device.
Select mobile devices from manufacturers that have built their platforms with IT support in mind. By deploying multiple form factors built on a common operating system and device platform, companies can streamline the process so that IT can develop, test, and certify applications one time, and then deploy them across form factors. This saves time and reduces deployment complexity.
Optimize Uptime Performance
Configuring and provisioning new mobile hardware can waste valuable time, both for IT staff and for employees that can’t do their jobs because they are waiting for their new computers. Look for devices that are ready to go “out of the box”, so that you can quickly load your applications and get your employees back to work.
For line of business applications, the hardware should be rugged — but not at the expense of comfort, ergonomics, ease of use, and speed of data capture. There are now a wide variety of Android-based devices available that are designed for comfortable, long-term use, but that can withstand harsh enterprise operating environments.
These mobile computers can provide an un-interrupted workflow because they have the battery power to last an entire shift, offer hot-swappable batteries to reduce downtime, and can operate longer with fewer device failures in the field.
Maximize Lifecycle Limits
Often, companies are using mobile hardware that can only accommodate one more OS update, but they don’t have budget to keep deploying new devices. That means these companies have to worry about ongoing support as the hardware becomes obsolete, and lack the latest updates and security patches.
Find a device provider that takes into account both backward-compatibility with software and accessories, as well as future-proofing to accommodate OS upgrades. Rugged devices are built to to be deployed for five years or more; Android updates come with far greater frequency than that.
Forward-looking device manufacturers provide support and security updates for multiple iterations of Android, and design their accessories (scanners, holsters, chargers, etc.) to be compatible with new product models.
When faced with common enterprise mobility challenges related to Windows CE end of life and the migration to Android, let Peak Technologies help you select a manufacturer/platform that is right for your operation. Our experts can help you select the migration strategy that allows you to transition more easily and affordably with less risk and disruption to your day-to-day operations. Contact us now to learn more.