To be quite frank: there is never a perfect device for a certain use case. Why? Well, a mobile device is always a compromise and not all parties involved in the selection of the device will be completely satisfied with a device due to conflicting interests.
Let’s have a quick look at the different parties involved and their interests:
1. End Users usually like small and fast devices. In addition to that the devices need to be as robust as possible. Plus that they should not be too heavy. Plus that the battery needs to last for a long time. And even if the device is small the screen needs to be as good and big as possible. You can see where this leads: first of all a lot of these points are contradictory and second of all a device like that is certainly expensive.
2. Which is something that the Management that has to pay for the devices certainly doesn’t like. The management would like to buy devices that are as cheap as possible and that have operating costs that are as low as possible. In addition to that the devices should work for at least three years without problems to keep the cost of ownership low.
3. System Administrators prefer devices that are easy to operate. Meaning they want to be able to access devices whenever needed and don’t want too much administrative effort when operating the devices.
Considering all these conflicting interests, how can you make sure that you choose the right device for your project ? There’s a number of rules that you should follow when selecting the devices:
1. Involve all parties early in the project. It’s especially important to have the end users involved since they are the decisive factor to make your mobile project a success. If your end users are unhappy with the selected devices your project will not be a success.
2. Test a number of devices – including different types of devices like Notebooks, Tablet PCs and PDAs. Be open minded when doing these tests. You might already have an idea of the kind of device you would like to go for but it might turn out that the original device you had in mind is not the best device for your project.
3. Always test ruggedized devices (if those devices make sense in your environment). True, the investment might be higher at first but the total cost of ownership might be lower since those devices might live much longer than non-ruggedized devices.
4. Make the decision which device to go for together with all involved parties.
So what all do you have to keep in mind when selecting a mobile device from a technical perspective?
1. Battery life – end users need to be able to work without being stopped by empty batteries all the time
2. Performance – waiting times should be minimized and it should feel good to work with the application
3. Memory – needs to be sufficient for the application you plan on running on the device
4. Robustness – the more robust the higher the life span of your device.
5. Operability – how much effort does it take to operate a device ?
6. Screen – how easy is it for end users to read data on the screen ? Is the screen size sufficient for the application ?
7. Data Storage – what data storage options does a device offer ? Could you one of those options for operating your mobile environment more easily – for example for backup and recovery strategies ?
8. Accessability – How easy is it to access a device remotely in case of problems ?
9. Operating System – Is a specific OS supported by the Mobile Infrastructure or by the application supposed to run on a device ?
10. Stability – a device has to be as stable as possible since every instability could result in the loss of data.
As you can see you have to keep a lot of things in mind when selecting a mobile device. Spending some time on device selection will reduce the amount of time that you will spend on operating your mobile environment later significally so that it will turn out to be a good investment.