Rugged Devices: They’re A TCO Opportunity No CIO Should Ignore

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Traditionally, rugged devices have been a solution for extreme environments. The military, law enforcement, manufacturing, resources and mining, research and other similar sectors have all seen the benefit of investing in rugged technology. However, the effort that goes into making devices that can handle drops, liquids and being run over by vehicles comes at a premium, so for those working in less challenging environments standard-issue tablets or laptops have been the norm.

Now, however, CIOs across all sectors might start to take a new look at rugged technology, because staff are working remotely more than ever, and, as life starts to adopt a post-pandemic “normal” that also means that staff will be working while travelling, whether that be meeting customers and clients, or even on holiday.

Even at home or in the office, people move around with their devices, and run the risk of broken notebooks or tablets being dropped while carried, suffering a liquid spill, or falling off the desk or table. These are not incidences that have anything to do with difficult or dangerous environments. These are events that can happen to all of us. Rugged laptops and tablets can handle this kind of damage, too.

With this in mind, CIOs might want to take a close look at the actual costs of managing fleets of devices, and how frequently those devices need to be sent in for repairs or replaced. Then, CIOs should consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) involved with regular devices vs rugged devices, and decide whether the rugged device is the better investment in the long run.

TCO considerations for rugged tablets

The first TCO consideration that should factor into the decision another whether to adopt a rugged approach to device purchases is the raw hardware costs. Research suggests that the annual failure rate of a standard laptop is around 33 per cent – meaning that across the fleet of devices, one in three will need replacing each year. Furthermore, with each additional year in operation, the chances of a failure in a consumer-grade laptop escalate. Meanwhile, for rugged devices, the failure rate is much lower at around nine per cent, and that percentage remains steady into the second and subsequent years. With a large enough fleet of devices, the failure rate alone justifies the cost of rugged equipment after just a few years – especially when that failure rate is backed by an expanded, three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, as leading rugged device manufacturers may offer.

However, the raw cost of equipment purchase is just the tip of the iceberg, and the overall TCO of devices is wrapped up much more in support and “soft costs.” Provisioning a replacement device, or maintaining one that can be repaired, for one example, is a time and resource-consuming process, both in terms of the IT support that needs to be dedicated to it, and the time in which a user is potentially without a device to work from. These challenges become exasperated if the employee is working remotely, and the device needs to be shipped to the IT team, and then shipped back out again.

An employee might try to use their personal devices while waiting for a device to be repaired or a new one to be shipped out to them. While this might minimise the downtime that they experience, it also introduces a massive security risk into the organisation, especially if the employee starts doing business over personal emails and saving files onto a device that isn’t properly secured or have policies applied to it.

Another significant cost might be the need to purchase new peripherals or software licenses, depending on the compatibility with the new device. With that comes training and on-boarding costs, and even for devices that use the same operating environment as a previous device, simply getting a person back up and working the way that they liked to previously consumes both time and, likely, support.

And finally, there’s the costs involved with data recovery and transfer… if possible. As much as cloud services and backups now exist, many professionals still prefer to save local copies of work – particularly if they spend time with their devices offline or out of WiFi range, and a damaged device in that instance can mean data loss and all the implications that come with that. Rugged tablets resolve that issue by both having more resilient forms of local data storage, and typically they have secondary and even tertiary forms of connectivity, so that the employee can remain connected to the network and cloud environment via SIM card and other wireless technology even when away from their standard WiFi connection.

Rugged devices no longer feature the compromises that they once may have. In terms of specifications and the quality of the computing experience, its equivalent across both standard tablets and rugged devices. Companies like Getac even invest heavily in screen quality, which makes them ideal for work under all circumstances, including bright sunlight. The outlay in purchasing a fleet of rugged devices is greater, but weighed against the cost of TCO, CIOs will find that their organisation – even those that don’t involve difficult work environments – will often benefit from rolling these out to users.

For more information on rugged devices and the benefit that they bring to CIOs from all verticals, click here.


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