Calling All Devices
There was a time – perhaps only recently – when fleets purchased mobile devices for only one reason: to capture information from vehicles and drivers. Then came smartphones and tablet devices. Now all employees want to use apps inside and outside the office to stay productive.
According to a recent survey from research firm Strategy Analytics, enterprises are planning to purchase 44 percent more Android tablets and 34 percent more iPads over the next 12 months. The survey also found that enterprises are paying for nearly 80 percent of related smartphone costs and replacing the devices every 13 months.
Managing this influx of devices can present a major IT challenge. How can companies support a whole new set of software applications and operating systems such as Apple, Android and Windows Mobile? New levels of support are needed to secure company data and update, troubleshoot and repair software, among other tasks. Fortunately, most of this can be done without having to touch devices physically.
Andrews Distributing, a Dallas-based beer distributor, delivers throughout Texas within 24 hours of customers placing their orders. The company, which has deployed about 1,000 mobile devices to its drivers and salespeople, cannot afford service failures due to technical issues or inoperable devices.
Drivers are using rugged Windows Mobile devices from Motorola and Intermec, while salespeople are using iPads. About 90 percent of the applications installed on Andrews’ devices are the same; all are equipped with e-mail and a payroll time-tracking system. The main difference is that drivers’ devices have an application to track delivery details, while the iPads have office applications.
*App boom: Employees want to stay productive inside and outside the office.
*Security issues: Managing these devices presents an IT challenge for fleets.
*Taking control: Mobile device management systems protect corporate data.
To keep its technology running smoothly, Andrews implemented the Soti MobiControl enterprise mobile device management system that works by installing an agent on the devices to enable communication with the MobiControl server. MobiControl has made it easy to load software onto devices, says Scott Jenkins, Andrews information systems administrator. Jenkins uses his mouse to click and drop the new device into a folder set up for each company department, such as “drivers in north Texas.”
Jenkins says MobiControl is a “hands-off” way to manage devices. Once a device is dropped into a folder, it is locked down automatically, or provisioned, for the specific apps that have been preapproved for end users. Software apps on the devices can be updated automatically by pushing the updates out during the nighttime; the devices reboot automatically when the updates are complete.
Fleets also are challenged with ensuring uniform control and management of Android devices. Whereas only one hardware manufacturer creates devices for the Apple OS, Android devices are made by more than 100 manufacturers, many of which have not provided an application program interface for MDM vendors to leverage. Soti says that MobiControl is compatible with all Android devices uniformly, regardless of manufacturer.
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