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Mobile devices have long since proved their value in the supply chain by expanding inventory visibility and increasing employee productivity. Users are looking for new devices to do even more, and with longer battery life and lower total cost of ownership, says Michael McGuriman, regional vice president at Psion Teklogix, which makes rugged handheld computer products and technology.
"Today, people are looking for devices that can do multiple tasks," he says. "It used to be that all a user did was walk around the warehouse and scan barcodes. Companies now want a single device that can potentially handle voice input, be able to interrogate RFID tags and read barcodes."
People also are looking for devices that last longer, he says. "What we have seen in the past is that devices would become obsolete within two to three years," he says. "To avoid that, we are building new devices in a modular way so users can swap out components but keep the device running." Modular-based devices can last 8 to 10 years, he says, which "really helps with total cost of ownership."
Another customer-driven change is to have service contracts cover damage to devices caused by abuse. If someone runs over a device with a forklift or sticks a screwdriver through the screen, those devices still will be covered under many contracts today, McGuriman says.
"The key to a modular approach is having a device that is expandable," he says. "Companies need to think about what their needs may be five years down the road and get a device that will grow with them.
"If you are looking to buy a device that can only do one task, you are looking at the wrong device," he says.
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