BYOD vs. Rugged: Rugged Wins in Enterprise Mobility

GUEST POST by Andrew Hall

First published Apr 11, 2016

At least once a week, I’m presented with a problem whose current solution involves a discussion about employees using their own mobile devices for work purposes. Sure, it sounds simple enough, and it’s definitely cheaper for the company that way. What could be the problem?


 In every case the reaction I have is exactly the same: “WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?!”


Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming more and more popular lately, and it really shouldn’t be. BYOD is starting to be synonymous with words like “easier”, “faster”, and “cost effective” but no one’s realizing all of that is at the cost of security, ruggedness, and yes — money. Just because it doesn’t cost you anything to buy the devices it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper for the company to use them. There’s much more to it than that.

Three Big Reasons Why Rugged Beats BYOD:

  1. Cost

Consumer devices may seem cheaper initially, but that upfront cost is only a small part of their long term costs. The bottom line is that a rugged device has a lower TCO (total cost of ownership) over a three year window than a consumer grade competitor. The upfront cost of a rugged device will definitely be higher, but think of all that includes: It’s built to last and won’t break if it’s dropped, its operating system won’t need updating every few months (potentially wreaking havoc on your application), and IT won’t have to update and support a wide range of devices.


The upfront cost of the hardware accounts for less than 10 percent of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a mobile solution over five years, estimates VDC Research.


Rugged devices tend to have a 3-year life-cycle instead of a 6- to 12-month time span that consumer devices have. Buying a new consumer device when one breaks adds to the cost but what about the cost of your IT team setting up and monitoring yet another device every time one breaks? IT employees aren’t cheap and spending 2-4 hours per day working on commissioning new devices has a cost associated with it, too. This expense is sometimes forgotten about since it’s not always visible in the early stages of a project.

What about the cost related to the employee whose phone just broke while on the clock? You can almost guarantee that they’re going to expect the company to pay for a new one. I know I would. And what about the device payments themselves? Maybe they start asking for a credit every month to use their device on your time to help offset the costs. It definitely adds up.

  1. Security

In addition to the physical costs there are intangible ones specifically related to your network security. Bringing multiple users’ various devices onto your network may look appealing from a purchasing standpoint but very few IT professionals would prefer it. Who would want their network to start allowing everyone on it with whatever apps or games they feel like. That’s just asking for trouble. Trying to prevent intrusions would become a full time job, possibly resulting in a new hire just to handle the new traffic on the network and to prevent breaches and leaks.


“While there are definitely segments where rugged devices are being displaced by consumer technology, many line of business applications take place in sufficiently rugged environments that simply can’t support consumer-grade technology.” – David Krebs, Executive Vice President, VDC Research


  1. IT Management

Lastly, how do you maintain and manage all of these devices? Setting aside how much it costs to have your IT team troubleshoot various operating systems and configurations, think of the time it takes to do all of that! I already mentioned the security concerns but what about when updates are needed? What about all of the tech support needed for various systems and configurations? With company-owned rugged devices IT is in charge from the start and rarely have to go back and make changes later on. With rugged devices, as our old friend, Ron Popeil, made famous, “Set it and forget it!”

With Rugged Devices, “Set it and Forget it!”

On top of that, if you even try to tell an employee that they need to install a certain program on their personal cell phone so that you can monitor them you’ll likely be faced with not only a moral dilemma, but a physical confrontation as well. Big brother is just as scary now as it ever was and no one wants people watching what they do on their own phones. Mobile device management (MDM) is becoming more and more necessary given the mobile landscape these days. With all sorts of devices all over the place, it’s almost impossible to ask IT to manage a fleet without a remote option to do so.


Add all of this up and you see my point: BYOD is RARELY the best option, for either the company or the user. It may sound alluring at first, but once you do the math it’s clear that a rugged, company-owned, and company-managed device is clearly the way to go. There are solutions that range from laptops and tablets to small cell phones and PDAs, all of which are built for a specific type of problem.

Andrew Hall is a barcode expert with over 5 years of experience in the AIDC industry. He has worked with clients of all sizes and on projects large and small and would be happy to discuss what he can do to make your life at work easier. His number is 847-995-1010 x141 and his email is for more information.

This post was published with the permission of the author.