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Revealing What Happens in Vegas...

A blog entry on the many advantages of using true Windows-based rugged tablets
by Matt Miller

You've heard the line "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." It attracts 46 million visitors annually and they don't call it Sin City for nothing. Things happen that may be out of the ordinary for otherwise reserved people; things that are better left unspoken and thus, leaving no trace.

Two separate yet similar things happened to me during a recent business trip to Vegas that I feel I must reveal; well, reveal to a point without the names of people and companies involved. Like personal reasons to keep things in Vegas, there are professional reasons to keep things under wraps, too.

Both cases centered on deployment of mobile computing to automate a field process. Both cases exposed compromises apparently being made to customer service and productivity with more than 10,000 mobile workers nationwide. Exposed right there in Vegas, Sin City.

"It slows me down. I could do it faster before."

"It frequently crashes, and I literally have to go back to paper."

Those two quotes came directly from the users of the mobile technology at the point of the customer interaction. The organizations were using tablets in a cloud-based wireless application. One was iOS used as a field sales device, and one was Android used as a front-end customer checkout device.

Device Failures Cause Major Problems

In both cases, the issues these companies were having with their mobile solutions resulted in obvious reduced productivity, causing additional time to get tasks done in front of the waiting customers. Customer satisfaction thus is diminished, and the company image is tarnished. How does the corporate image look if an employee has to abandon the tablet after it reboots twice and revert to paper in front of a customer? How is the ROI of a mobile project served by the front-line sales employees being slowed down in the duties to sell?

The enterprise customers' expectations today are very demanding. They expect their solutions to deliver results and perform as specified. The organizations these two companies had partnered with clearly are not holding these deployments to those standards. The apparent duplicity in expectations may likely be driven by the initial acquisition price between rugged Windows-based tablets and non-rugged/semi-rugged iOS and Android tablets.

Deployments of complex front-end systems need to be monitored to uncover issues, such as time studies as well as productivity and accuracy measurements of the critical processes that affect customer satisfaction and interaction. Can higher performance and stability be delivered at a more competitive acquisition price than with traditional rugged devices? Today's Windows tablets do not have the Windows license fees of the past. Intel has new processors allowing similar thin and light devices yet with performance that is a better fit for enterprise needs than the ARM-based iOS and Android devices. Overall, they have become much more price competitive.

New entrants of cloud-based, rugged Windows tablets have arrived with more CPU power, RAM, and storage space. They can support corporate-standard legacy applications such as true Office and have enterprise-level security, management, and infrastructure capability. They can be put into a notebook-style dock with external monitor and mouse/keyboard to be used as a standard PC. Their functionality and performance surpass tablets with Android and iOS, which are often known to be deployed as a second device to a user's laptop. That's not needed with the new Windows tablets as they can function as the single device.

You have more choices today in tablet PCs than ever before, and thus it is highly advised to research varying categories of ruggedness, performance, price, and operating system environments to automate critical frontline functions of your company. It's too bad the sins of lost productivity and tarnished brand have not just stayed in Vegas but have spread throughout these companies' deployments nationwide. The good news is that atonement can be had.


Matt Miller is the founder and CEO of MobileDemand, a fast-growing provider of rugged mobile tablet computers. Miller, recognized as a finalist for the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 by Ernst & Young, founded MobileDemand in 2003 after more than 15 years of developing successful rugged tablet computers for other manufacturers in the mobile computing industry. Miller's educational background is in computer science and marketing, and he holds an MBA from the University of Iowa.