Introduction to Single Purpose Device Management

  • October 30, 2019
An Introduction to Single Purpose Device Management

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. 

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, the 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 browsers 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 roll out 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 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 is 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 is susceptible to misuse if the device is stolen or lost. It is crucial to remotely wipe-off the device data and lock 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 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 update, 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 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 data breach.

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 is a Sr. Content Writer at Scalefusion. An engineering graduate, an Apple junkie and an avid reader, she has a 5+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for technology and web based startups.

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