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21 Jun 2022 | 11:00

Five reasons to choose rugged technology now

Ruggedised phone and mobile device technology is not new: organisations with mobile or deskless staff have long had to choose between investment in rugged devices that can cope with the knocks and scratches of front-line work, and consumer versions that are more affordable, but less durable.

However, the landscape for both consumer and rugged technology has changed a great deal in the last few years, and rugged is increasingly the intelligent choice for many. In this post we’ll explore the reasons behind that assertion, and explain why rugged might work well for your organisation, too.

New technologies and platforms are transforming the way we all work, and with around 80% of the world’s workforce now deskless, the quality and capability of mobile devices – like smartphones, tablets and notebook computers – is of particular importance. That is reflected in commercial spending on new technology, which is generally increasing for deskless workers in deskless sectors like healthcare, agriculture, construction, education, retail, transport and manufacturing

This suggests that many organisations now see the need to optimise technology for their mobile or front-line workforce, but is ruggedised best? Well, in many cases, yes.

We explore this topic in more detail in our guide, Why tougher doesn’t need to mean harder: bridging the rugged and consumer device divide, which you can download here. In the meantime, here are five reasons why you should consider rugged technology for your next investment.

1. Are rugged phones worth it? The value of durability

In rugged devices, durability takes two forms. One is the (often visible) build strength of the device, the additional toughness that allows ruggedised devices to withstand the impacts, dust, dirt and water that are part of daily work for many. The other is the durability hidden within the device. This might include an extended-life battery, a touch screen that works efficiently with gloved and/or wet hands, and screen manufacture that allows the user to read the device in bright sunlight. 

Often, these factors alone can make the case for investing in rugged rather than consumer devices, not least because of the productivity gains and cost savings they can generate. For example, every time you charge a consumer-grade device during work hours, you lose productivity and incur cost. Eventually, consumer-grade devices fail; and that will demand a maintenance visit at best and possibly an entirely new device. Ruggedised devices are much easier to maintain: many are designed for quick and easy battery changes and their construction makes them less likely to need maintenance of any type. 

Clearly, while a ruggedised phone or tablet may have a higher purchase cost than a consumer model, that is often offset over time by the lower repair and replacement costs and reduced downtime. So, are rugged phones worth it? Absolutely, yes. 

2. The ruggedised phone or tablet excels in functionality

Not long ago, some organisations chose consumer devices purely because they felt the functionality of these models was more up-to-date, and more quickly updated, than was the case for rugged models. While there may once have been some truth to this, it is no longer so. Indeed, the increasing deployment of specialist apps in rugged devices is actually making them more practical and versatile for workplace use.

Much of this has to do with the growth of Android as a platform for rugged mobile devices, which we will consider in more detail shortly. Android is the world’s most popular operating system, and comes with a wide-ranging and highly-developed infrastructure of apps, functionalities and compatible devices. This makes it very easy for deskless workers to add and use additional technologies (such as barcode readers and cameras of various types, and apps for cloud-based systems like asset management, documentation and HR). What is more, rugged devices are increasingly designed and built to accommodate this potential.

Another – crucial – functional element of any workplace device is security. With more and more sensitive data being held on mobile devices, organisations cannot afford to compromise on this. While consumer devices are intended primarily for individual use, rugged devices are designed for business challenges and business responsibilities, and the best have top-level security coded in. For example, Samsung rugged devices come with military-level defence and government-certified encryption. Today’s rugged devices can also augment your security with biometric authentication, such as face and/or fingerprint recognition.

3. Rugged devices can save money, reduce cost of ownership

As we have seen, the durability of a ruggedised phone or other mobile device can generate cost savings due to lower risk of damage and reduced need for maintenance. However, these are not the only cost-effective attributes of rugged technology. 

If you choose a modern ruggedised phone, tablet or notebook with up-to-date security and management technologies, this can save you huge amounts and provide reputational benefit if it protects you from a data breach (bearing in mind that around 39% of UK businesses suffered a cyber-attack in 2021, at an average cost just short of £10,000 each). 

Ruggedised technology can also drive up productivity, particularly when used with the large and growing Android ecosystem and additional accessories. With modern ruggedised devices all members of your team can consult, meet and exchange information using Google Meet, Zoom or similar: if you choose a device with push-to-talk (PTT) functionality they can literally do this at the touch of a button. Documentation; reporting, invoicing and billing software; shared administrative tools like calendars or HR functions can now be used on site and immediately. Systems and processes become seamless and optimised.

4. Enhance workforce engagement and happiness

In the past, many workplace mobile devices relied on Windows Mobile infrastructure, which never caught on with consumers (and has now been discontinued). Consequently, many workers found the operating systems of traditional rugged devices unfamiliar, and some had problems fully engaging with their devices. With today’s Android OS, that problem is eliminated, because Android is chosen by most consumers worldwide. Thus, modern rugged devices are extremely user-friendly and familiar to the people who use them – and those people are, in turn, more likely to engage with the devices and the processes they expedite, and to do so effectively.

Furthermore, in a post-lockdown, post-Brexit world, new challenges exist around recruitment and retention. Research taken in light of this reveals that the employer’s choice of technology can fundamentally affect their ability to retain staff and the quality of work those staff members achieve. Thus, your choice of technology may be more important now than ever, and the capacity of your tech to retain workers represents another potential cost saving.

5. Tap into the evolving Android ecosystem

As we have seen, the breadth and scope of the Android world makes it an important part of today’s workplace technology; a fact that is underscored by the development of Android Enterprise

There are several key advantages to Android’s ubiquity. One is that it makes backing up data to the cloud, as well as sharing across devices and using a rugged device in multiple settings very easy. For example, current Samsung rugged devices come with Samsung DeX, which permits multi-tasking across multiple devices, giving the user (and the organisation they work for) ultimate versatility. 

However, this advantage is not confined to the present. With Android’s clear commitment to business and organisational operations comes a host of possibilities in terms of future development. Android has staked a claim in the future of work, and it will be fascinating to see how that evolves, and the additional capabilities that it gives to connected organisations. 

We hope that you have found this post interesting, and if you want to read more you can download our guide Why tougher doesn’t need to mean harder: bridging the rugged and consumer device divide. Alternatively, please get in touch with us today to find out how ruggedised devices can help you to save money and achieve more.


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