…and why they certainly don’t belong on the walls of my workplace
By John Wang, CEO, IAdea
I just want to say I love my tablet. It is a happy medium between my bulky laptop and tiny smart phone. I can catch up on the news while I commute to work without having to squint at my phone screen, reading three or four words a line or I can easily lie in bed and watch Netflix in whatever awkward position I feel like. I even use it for the occasional video-conference on the days I am working from home because it lets me roam about the house (I’ll easily do 20 laps of the house during each meeting) while talking.
And it’s not just me, they are hugely popular; nearly 40 million tablets were shipped in 2021 Q1 alone. Likewise, I often see them when I’m out and about: the local café uses one for taking orders and payments, when I visit the doctor I need to register and check in on one etc. They are versatile pieces of kit that can go anywhere… well, almost anywhere.
In the workplace though? For quickly jotting down ideas or making sketches, sure! But deployed as digital displays, digital signage or as room panels are just no-nos. When I see offices with tablets poorly mounted outside meeting rooms, I can’t help but feel frustrated. And it’s not just tablets, but all sort of smart home IoT gadgets and sensors.
In fact, consumer-grade IoT devices in the workplace is a recipe for disaster, and here’s why:
Let’s start with the benefits. In the short run they are cheaper. That’s it. That’s about the only benefit you can expect.
And now for the downsides:
Unfit for Purpose
They are certainly not purpose-built. What you see is exactly what you get with consumer-grade equipment, with little leeway for customization and they almost always lack key features needed for enterprise settings. Purpose-built hardware is designed to meet the specific ges such as room panels with integrated physical access, PoE support or peripheral lighting that just would not make sense on a consumer device. How can a ubiquitous product possible solve each organization’s unique challenges?
Unreliable With Little in The Way of Support
Say for example, during the device update process, the device encountered an error, reducing it to a small heap of plastic and metal. Good luck waiting on hold for half an hour—if they have phone support that is—before you get through to someone inadequately trained and does not understand your issue. Enterprise-grade hardware comes with enterprise-grade support, meaning in-depth technical knowledge and fast resolutions, and someone that knows that every moment of downtime is costing you money.
Consumer-grade IoT is low hanging fruit for those with nefarious motives. Security is more often than not an afterthought with consumer-grade devices and they are certainly not equipped to stand their ground against even mild attacks. Combined with poor network security hygiene, it can leave the entire enterprise network at risk.
Not Designed for Continuous Operation and Charging
Consumer products often have batteries, and more or less every consumer tablet has one. Typically, in a home environment you may charge your device overnight, and then run it down throughout the day as you use it, as batteries are designed to be used.
However, in an office environment they will remain connected to a charger round the clock and this can be highly detrimental to the device. Besides emitting large amounts of heat, batteries can expand and swell destroying the device in the process, or even explode. An insurance disaster waiting to happen!
So, the next time you’re stuck choosing between dedicated professional-grade and saving a few dollars with a good deal on Amazon, think again. When it comes to business, enterprise-grade equipment is the only way to go for purpose-designed features, network security, dedicated support and an overall reduced TCO.
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