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In Focus: A Changing Technology Landscape for the Construction Industry

Durable, environmentally resilient, and powerful mobility tools are needed by construction workers to keep a project on schedule and ultimately enhance a company’s bottom line.

Q3 2016
Companies in the construction sector are continuing to expand their digital footprint and providing increased mobile capabilities to their operators. The trend encompasses slim and lightweight devices that can perform in a range of challenging environments — from office work to harsh environments that require ruggedized tools. These new form factors represent a shift away from a proprietary Operating System (OS), a key fea-ture in the ongoing evolution of enterprise handhelds. They’re part of a growing transi-tion toward enterprise purpose-built devices for construction workers that provide in-creased power, versatility, and reliability within a more ergonomic profile.

These newer models also enable improved IT control through Mobile Device Manage-ment (MDM) platforms. In the past, Windows CE and Windows Mobile were relatively unsecured operating systems, and much of the ruggedized handheld market con-formed to these specs. The transition away from proprietary toward an open OS is due to diverse factors. They include the pervasiveness of the Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld OS; a greater reliance on mobile apps across all business sectors; and key device improvements.

Moreover, the current design aesthetic comes directly from the consumer space and is based on user demand for a handheld experience that’s robust while more familiar, and easier to operate. Think lighter, more ergonomic. For example, a key difference be-tween the older handheld device push-button interfaces and these newer handhelds is the on-screen keyboard. While the consumerization of IT represents a significant trend, the new mobile tech-nology deployment story remains the same: IT departments desire well-designed, pur-pose-built devices that are durable and reliable.

With this new enterprise handheld design, construction workers don’t require signifi-cant training on its use, because they can rely on their own personal smartphone ex-perience. From a workforce perspective, the newer enterprise purpose-built form factors available offer increased power (Quad-core CPUs), glove-enabled functionality, and daylight-readable screens that are fully operational in harsh conditions, as well as ex-ceptional wireless connectivity to deliver secure, anytime/anywhere data access. These devices also offer construction workers integrated features, such as a barcode scan-ner, RFID reader, GPS, camera and mobile broadband that provide data and image capture for quick action.

Meeting Real-World Challenges
For IT, the new enterprise purpose-built handheld tablet form factors can eliminate the back-end complications associated with proprietary operating systems and the added costs of servicing inadequately designed devices that aren’t meeting enterprise profes-sionals’ user needs. The evolution to an open OS and an enterprise handheld tablet form factor translates to increased IT agility and responsiveness for handling IT tasks, such as application updates, patches, remote security, and robust Mobile Device Man-agement (MDM) to improve overall efficiency.

The need for durable, environmentally resilient, and powerful mobility has heralded the advance of new standards. While the consumerization of IT represents a significant trend, the new mobile tech-nology deployment story remains the same: IT departments desire well-designed, pur-pose-built devices that are durable and reliable. This can be essential when working in construction, given the downtime caused by consumer tablets not holding up in harsh environments. Any increase in downtime can lead to both delays and a loss of ROI/revenue. Ultimately, the more time IT staff spend managing and fixing broken de-vices, the less time they have to enact other technologies and improve a company’s bottom-line performance.

The need for durable, environmentally resilient, and powerful mobility has heralded the advance of new standards. The construction workforce operating in today’s demanding physical environments expect the levels of mobile functionality, access, and response characteristic of their own personal devices. Combining a consumer-inspired smartphone design with business process requirements represents the next stage in rugged construction technology evolution.
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