Introduction to Single Purpose Device Management

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    As businesses started adopting digital technology, one of the most crucial game-changers were devices specifically built (hardware and software combined) for business purposes. While the importance of computers and mobile phones to get things done on the go is undeniable, having dedicated devices catering to a single or perhaps multiple, but intended for business is equally significant to drive measurable results for any business.

    Single Purpose Device Management
    Single Purpose Device Management

    In this article, we will be discussing the various elements around single-purpose devices and take a look at Single-purpose device management using Scalefusion MDM

    What are single purpose devices?

    In the world of EMM, single-purpose devices are devices built and designed specifically to run a particular program or algorithm for a certain purpose or to accomplish one or more tasks specific to a particular business. In the Android Enterprise Recommended jargon family, single-purpose devices are known as dedicated devices. They were previously known as (formerly called corporate-owned single-use, or COSU). 

    Single-purpose devices were earlier manufactured specifically for certain business purposes. Historically, an electric drill or a crane are also classic examples of single-purpose devices. With the advent of computational operations, computers and single-purpose devices were always manufactured and used separately. Devices used for work were not interchangeable and businesses heavily relied on bespoke or ruggedized devices for accomplishing tasks. With the arrival of MDM, mobile devices and computers are used for business purposes by locking them to single or multiple business apps, making them the most easy-to-access single-purpose devices.

    Single Purpose Devices: Industry Scope

    Single-purpose devices are commonly used in multiple industries, businesses, as well as in the field of education. From transport hubs to waiting areas, from factories to retail stores, single-purpose devices are extensively used for business. These devices can either be customer-facing or employee-facing.

    • Delivery & logistics
    • Education
    • Manufacturing and Supply Chain
    • Transportations
    • Restaurants and Hospitality
    • Healthcare
    • Mining
    • Retail
    • Construction
    • Oil and Gas
    • Maintenance 

    Some of the most common use-cases of single-purpose devices include:

    • Devices used by frontline workers & field force
    • Digital signage
    • Way finders in shopping malls, zoos, museums
    • Web kiosk browser at airports
    • mPOS systems
    • Service kiosks in the hospitality industry
    • Ticket booking kiosks
    • Devices used for education, training, learning and development 
    • Retail kiosks 
    • Devices used by delivery executives & service industry employees
    • Ruggedized devices used in a harsh environment or extreme weather conditions
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    Mobile devices & computers as single purpose devices

    While bespoke single-purpose devices can be obtained from an OEM, the easiest and quickest way to deploy single-purpose devices for businesses is to use Android and iOS-based mobile devices and Windows 10 and macOS-based computers as single-purpose devices. These devices can be configured for business purposes using a mobile device management tool. Since single-purpose devices are fully-managed devices overseen by the company IT teams, configuring them to one or more business apps is streamlined by an MDM tool. Using an MDM tool ensures that devices are not misused for personal purposes, the data costs can be controlled and distractions due to unwanted applications are prevented.

    Single Purpose Devices: Management Modes

    When single-purpose devices are configured for business, they are corporate-owned devices belonging to either of the following management models:

    1. Single app mode: The device runs only one application at any given point
    2. Multi-app kiosk mode: The device runs two or more applications at any given point.

    It is important to note that irrespective of the management modes, the applications running on the single-purpose devices are business apps.

    Read more:  Device Management Modes In Single Purpose Devices

    Challenges in using single purpose devices

    While the prominence of single-purpose devices is unambiguous, an organization-level rollout of single-purpose devices comes with a set of challenges, such as follows:

    • Individually provisioning the devices

    Each device has to be manually configured with the business apps and policies. This puts the company IT teams under excess workload, impacting their performance. 

    • Locking devices to single or multi-app kiosk mode

    Since the devices are not configured at the manufacturer level, they have to be loaded with business-specific apps and locked to those apps only. 

    • Publishing private enterprise-level apps

    If an organization uses a private application, deploying the same on the entire inventory of single-purpose devices is tedious. 

    • Updating device & app software

    After a single-purpose device is loaded with business apps, it is important to update the applications from time to time to upkeep the app performance. Similarly, updating the device OS periodically is also necessary to maintain the device’s performance.

    • Monitoring the device inventory

    When single-purpose devices are deployed to multiple geo-locations, tracking devices, battery, storage, and data usage on these devices and other metrics that can hamper the efficiency of these devices are critical. For unattended devices, monitoring the device performance remotely is extremely crucial. 

    • Troubleshooting device issues

    If any device runs into an error, the device has to be physically brought to a service center for device troubleshooting. This results in added logistic costs and device downtime. 

    • Rebooting devices periodically

    Devices that are constantly up and running need a scheduled downtime. For unattended devices, remote reboot capability is crucial to ensure improved device performance. 

    • Protecting devices from factory reset

    When devices are deployed to a perimeter-less workforce, it is important to protect the devices against misuse by factory reset or hard reset of the device. 

    • Securing data on lost or stolen devices

    The business data on single-purpose devices are susceptible to misuse if the device is stolen or lost. It is crucial to remotely wipe off the device data and locks the device to prevent unauthorized access.

    When mobile devices or computers are deployed as single-purpose devices, it is imperative to use a single-purpose device management tool to effectively mitigate these challenges to ensure the devices yield desired results for business growth.

    Scalefusion for single purpose device management

    Simplified enrollment

    Scalefusion supports AfW based Zero-touch enrollment for Android devices and Apple DEP-based enrollment for iOS and macOS devices. Single-purpose devices can be configured over the air and directly shipped from the warehouse to the end-user. Individual manual configuration is not necessary. 

    Single app or multi-app kiosk mode

    Scalefusion offers the capability of a single app or multi-app mode in single-purpose device management. Android and iOS devices can be locked to one single app or multiple business apps with Scalefusion. Scalefusion also extends Windows 10 single app mode where Windows 10 devices can be configured to run into single app mode. The single application can be a preinstalled app, a Win32 app, a kiosk browser, or an enterprise app.

    Publishing private apps

    Scalefusion MDM provisions distribution of enterprise applications on Android or iOS devices. For Android devices, the app can be uploaded using an APK file. For iOS devices, a private app can be uploaded and published using a pList link or an IPA file. 

    Remotely updating OS, apps 

    IT teams can update OS updates, delay the OS update for managed single-purpose devices from the Scalefusion dashboard. IT admins can also update applications, assign or reassign app licenses from the dashboard.

    Inventory monitoring

    Scalefusion DeepDive offers detailed inventory monitoring for managed single-purpose devices. IT teams can track device location (Geo-based for Android, IP-based for iOS), battery status, data, and storage usage, device OS version, compliance violations, and security incidents on the device. Administrators can thus take appropriate and quick actions to secure the devices or upkeep device performance. 

    Remote troubleshooting

    To reduce the device downtime and cut down on the logistics cost for fetching a device running into errors, Scalefusion offers Remote Cast and Control where IT admins can remotely mirror device screen as seen to the end-user and extend support to resolve the device issues. For select Android devices, IT admins can take control of the device screen and navigate the screens to resolve the issues. IT teams can upload, download or delete files on the device and also raise support tickets on the integrated ITSM tool.

    Automating & task scheduling 

    Using Scalefusion Workflows, IT teams can automate recurring tasks such as device reboot, lock, unlock, dynamic policy application, and compliance alerts for battery, data, and storage usage. IT teams can also set geofences and set alerts whenever the device enters or leaves the designated geo-fence.

    Enhanced Security

    For Android devices, Scalefusion offers factory reset protection which prevents the device from being hard reset. To enhance the security of the device and data, IT admins can enforce passcode policies, geo-fences and cal remotely wipe off data and lock the device to prevent a data breaches.

    Scalefusion for single-purpose device management is ideal for businesses deploying devices for work, to frontline employees, to field force, or as digital signage. Managing single-purpose devices using Scalefusion helps in securing devices using for business, effectively.

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    Renuka Shahane
    Renuka Shahane
    Renuka Shahane is an avid reader who loves writing about technology. She is an engineering graduate with 10+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for web-based startups.

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