Deploying mobile computing and data collection solutions is a complex undertaking. Companies that attempt to self-manage these implementations by buying hardware and pushing it out to end users often find themselves sitting on a storeroom full of useless devices within the year.
Your value added reseller or integrator should be more than just a hardware supplier. Leading resellers also offer professional services that can range from solution design and device selection, to software provisioning, mobile device management, and a variety of post-implementation support activities.
Choosing an integration partner with a full suite of professional service offerings can mean the difference between a rapid and successful mobile solution deployment and challenging installation plagued with delays and dead-ends.
While professional service offerings vary by provider, there are a number of key capabilities you should look for when evaluating integrators and resellers:
Planning & Assessment: Experienced integrators and resellers can provide technical evaluations and advice that will help you fully define the operational problem you need to solve – and then match either a single or mixed-vendor solution to your specific workflows.
Analysis & Design: This is more than just selecting some mobile hardware or a software application. Mobility solutions require a holistic approach that can include radio frequency network site surveys, network design, workflow evaluations, RFID tag and reader testing and evaluation, and other preliminary activities that will help you eliminate potential problems before they derail your implementation.
Mobility Implementation: Most corporate IT departments don’t have extensive experience in mobile deployments. Your integration partner can install the mobile software on the devices, stage and kit the hardware and accessories, test the hardware, help with any asset tagging prior to deployment, and perform system commissioning.
Software Services: In addition to configuring and loading the software, integration partners can provide operating system upgrade/downgrade services, device management software, licensing management, and new mobile app design or development services. Mobile technology and solutions evolve, often rapidly, and your partners should help your application evolve as well.
Management & Support: Before you sign the contract, find out what support options are available. Are there tiered service contracts? Unless you have in-house capabilities, find a reseller that can provide device management and repair services and other support services, right through to the disposal of old devices in an environmentally responsible manner. Hardware and software will eventually fail; robust support services will help keep those failures from resulting in costly downtime.
Bear in mind that you may not need to take advantage of all of these services; many companies have internal IT staffs that are more than capable of handling many of the basics of implementation, support and solution maintenance. But as your needs change and the technology evolves, the availability of these services may become more critical.
By partnering with a provider that not only provides reliable hardware and software, but that can also help manage the logistics of a large-scale mobile deployment and help keep the solution operating to its full potential, you can ensure a successful mobile computing implementation that will provide a rapid return on investment.