Many industries like manufacturing, logistics, field services, healthcare, transport, construction etc. require their employees to work in harsh environments. Mobile devices used for such enterprises should have a higher level of ruggedness (resistance against shock, water, dust, extreme heat or humidity) along with the features of smart devices.
Rugged devices are generally used outside an office setting and are being rapidly adopted for inventory management, route planning, call progress, time management, customer interaction, navigating line of business, interfacing to backend systems etc. A VDC Research forecasts the rugged smartphone market to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% to $3.8 Billion by 2020.
i) Rugged devices typically have a four to six years life span and usually update after every six to eight months, which is a challenge for an enterprise having thousands of devices to manage.
ii) Most vendors discontinue support for upgrades to new operating systems for older devices, thus supporting legacy devices and platforms of rugged devices is another challenge.
Rugged device management helps manage rugged device fleet by managing, tracking, and monitoring the devices, and working around the hardware and software settings to restrict their usage for job purpose to avoid misuse.
Let’s give a quick guide on the features you should look for in an MDM solution for rugged device management:
1. Enrollment, Deployment, and Provisioning: Rugged devices are mostly deployed outside a corporate office away from IT. Thus, device enrollment and configuration should be low-touch and easy. An efficient MDM solution for rugged devices will have an easy and simple device onboarding at scale for a diverse fleet of devices.
After the device registration, all registered devices should be visible and accessible by a centralized administration console or a unified dashboard. You should look for a solution that offers:
a) Device visibility to identify initial device settings and configure with custom attributes.
b) A device provisioning platform to remotely configure user profiles, corporate apps, files, and data, Wi-Fi, VPN, virtual fencing etc.
c) Provision for bulk device registration and installation.
d) An option to schedule updates on rugged devices or based on present device condition is a bonus.
2. Remote Management, Security and Control: A rugged device management platform should be able to provide remote access and control to the registered devices which includes functions like:
a) Tracking, managing, and monitoring information like device health, network settings, diagnostics, internal and external apps, and other attributes.
b) Configure enterprise-level security to thwart virus, data-theft, hijacking or other attacks.
c) Ability to restrict functionality like device tethering, screen capture, camera, Bluetooth, external storage uses etc. to prevent data theft.
d) Real-time notifications on device usage or real-time view of a device to monitor any malicious activity or non-compliance of security policy.
e) Automatic mediation with a remote lock or remote data wipe in case the device is lost or malicious activity is noticed.
f) Admin console can keep a tab on field devices and get status updates on location, call logs, network statistics, battery levels, storage etc.
3. Diverse Device Compatibility: Job requirements like a restriction to work on a specific OS, type of device, work conditions may bring devices with diverse features in an organization’s mobile ecosystem. Also, many rugged devices have legacy systems running on them with vendors no longer supporting these systems. Some devices have configurations which have become obsolete in a modern day work-place and cannot be changed due to operational or environmental requirements. This makes rugged device fleet diverse and sometimes unwieldy.
An MDM solution for rugged devices should be able to support and manage devices with varied configurations and operating systems, and different types of mobile endpoints.
4. User Enablement and Apps Delivery: In industries where employees work in shifts, most rugged devices are configured to be shared amongst different users for different purposes. A rugged device management solution should support features like:
a) Creating multiple user profiles and access levels for employees to check-in to the device.
b) Dynamically deploy or configure apps based on the logged in user.
c) Monitoring complete app life cycle – sourcing, developing, deploying, and monitoring apps.
d) Maintaining required app lists, whitelisted apps to ensure only approved apps are installed and blocking blacklisted apps.
e) Configure kiosks or user-less devices in a single or multi-app mode and prevent user access to settings. Configure enterprise-level security to thwart virus, data-theft, hijacking or other attacks.
5. Diagnostics: An MDM solution for rugged devices should be able to provide remote troubleshooting and diagnostics to resolve problems on rugged devices in a timely manner for improved productivity and reduced outage times. This will help improve field operations and cost efficiency.
Rugged devices can withstand the harsh working conditions but need to be protected from software failures, cyber-attacks, and data thefts. Scalefusion MDM solution is perfect for rugged device management for having a systematic, inclusive and comprehensive approach to cater to the wide range of use cases for such devices. Our wide range of features and value add-ons drive convenience, productivity, and efficiency across teams and within device users.
Vandita is a passionate writer and IT enthusiast. By profession, she is a Computer Lecturer at the University of Delhi and has previously worked as a Software Engineer with Aricent Technologies.