Retail Technology Review spoke with Steve Northcott, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at Motorola Solutions, about how Motorola’s TC55 meets the requirements of the modern field professional. With the attractive appearance and user-friendliness of a consumer-grade smartphone, coupled with the functional flexibility and ruggedness needed for day-to-day business use, the TC55 provides a major sales opportunity within the market.
For the modern field professional tasked with delivering and receiving goods, or servicing or replacing parts and equipment, it has never been so important to have fast, reliable access to information concerning daily schedules and responsibilities. With ever tighter deadlines to meet, and with customer requirements or logistical issues that can change within a very short timeframe, modern mobile computing technology has become a must-have advantage in order to remain efficient and competitive.
Earlier this year, Motorola commissioned an IDG market research report, which surveyed 100 people in field service, field inspection, field delivery and field sales about their use of mobile devices. One of the questions enquired about the type of applications they were currently using; for example, whether they relied on a handheld mobile computer for tasks such as route planning, signature capture, asset scanning and mobile point-of-sale. "We listed around 10 different applications. Roughly speaking around 50% of people were currently using each application," Steve Northcott, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at Motorola Solutions, pointed out. "That went to 65% for people using technology for route planning, 53% for job allocation, and 45% for asset scanning. So there were a fair variety of responses. We then asked the participants what type of devices they anticipated using in two years' time, and discovered that most people were planning to increase the usage of mobile devices significantly. So, while field organisations are currently using mobile technology for a range of different tasks it seems clear that mobile devices and the applications they are used for is a strong growth market."
Moreover, Northcott explained that the number of different applications people are looking for is likely to increase over the coming years to leverage the technology. "Therefore, it might also be true that users initially invest in handheld mobile computers for specific tasks such as route planning and job scheduling. However, over time they might think we've paid for this asset so what else can we use it for; for example, could we use it for proof of delivery or for asset management? So what's required is a mobile computer with the built-in flexibility to quickly adapt to changing user requirements."
Choosing the right device
Therefore, within the business-to-business world, Northcott believes it is important to choose a mobile computer that has just this level of flexibility and adaptability in order to meet the increasingly demanding needs of the field professional. He also recognises that there has recently been a noticeable level of interest in using consumer-grade devices within the enterprise field due to their attractive appearance and because they have become so widely embraced in the social sphere for social media, playing computer games, watching videos etc. However, Northcott adds that any company looking to deploy mobile devices to its workforce in the enterprise/field service environment will need to ensure that it has the added functionality to meet their enterprise requirements.
According to Northcott, some of these functionality requirements are likely to include a screen that is larger than most consumer devices, while also offering considerably longer battery life. He adds that users such as those operating in field services will also need the screen to be easily visible in outdoor light. Northcott also made the point that, in terms of mobile device applications, there will be a requirement for the best apps with the best features and capabilities that ensure that the workforce is as productive and efficient during their daily tasks as possible.
Best of both worlds
The good news is that with modern enterprise mobile computers such as the Motorola TC55 Touch Computer all these benefits can be readily at hand. Northcott commented that, with the Motorola TC55, field workers can have the best of both worlds; the usability and attractiveness of a consumer device, with the ruggedness and fit-for-purpose features modern field professionals need for their daily routines. "To get the job done, field workers need rugged, reliable, remote access to real-time data," said Northcott. "While personal consumer-grade smartphones, tablets and laptops may be attractive and easy to use, they do not have the durability or functionality necessary for everyday business use. However, this pocket-sized, all-touch computer has it all. The TC55 Touch Computer capitalises on the latest, technological advancements, aesthetic appeal and usability of popular personal devices, but unlike its consumer-grade counterparts, it has integrated data capture capabilities and is built to withstand the wear and tear of industrial environments, so it's less likely to fail in the field. Fewer failures mean less downtime, and most importantly, higher productivity and profitability."
Northcott highlights some of the specific feature benefits the TC55 has to offer the field professional. "With the TC55 field workers can receive work orders and sales leads in real time; access complete work order histories and supporting information; scan products, parts and tools as they are used; better plan routes and minimise mileage with GPS; scan returns to create accurate real-time invoices; capture and transmit signatures for proof of delivery; and take pictures of delivered items. The device features a generous 4.3 in. high-resolution display. This display isn't just bigger, it's significantly better. Based on cutting-edge HAST LCD technology, the screen is brighter both indoors and outdoors, all while consuming substantially less energy, which can significantly increase battery life. Indeed, the battery itself is designed for full shift usage. At 700 NITs, the device has outstanding indoor luminance, and the screen's transflective feature actually leverages direct sunlight to improve its image clarity, making it ideal for outdoor viewing as well. Furthermore, the capacitive touch panel dynamically adjusts to the current environment, enabling it to work with or without gloves, wet or dry and with your finger or a stylus.
With all these benefits, the TC55 will help enable field professionals to track deliveries in real-time, increase sales, improve responsiveness and increase efficiency. It also boasts near-field communication (NFC) and is available with a camera or integrated 1-D barcode scanner. From a resilience perspective, the TC55 has been thoroughly tested to a 1.2M drop spec, and has an IP67 sealing rating. So, as you can see, it's a highly feature-rich device and ideally suited to field workers' everyday tasks."
Built on Android
The Motorola TC55 is built on the Android operating system (OS). "With state-of-the-art features developed for the enterprise user, the device has taken all the flexibility benefits of Android and transformed it from the highly popular consumer OS to true enterprise-class; including security, device management and support for enterprise data capture capabilities," explained Northcott. He added that Motorola also offers some highly attractive enterprise mobile devices built on the Microsoft Windows operating system, including the MC45 and MC67. "Motorola always looks to provide the widest choice possible for our partners to ensure that the devices meet the right requirements for specific end-customers," he said.
TC55 now available to all Resellers, even those not in the Motorola Partner Programme
Northcott explains that another attractive advantage of the TC55 from a reseller perspective is that it is now an Open Class device. "What this means in essence is that if you're a dealer and you have an opportunity to sell a number of TC55 devices to your customers you don't have to be part of the Motorola Partner Programme to obtain the devices," he pointed out. "All you need to do is contact one of our approved value-added distributors (VADs). While there remain a number of highly attractive benefits surrounding membership of the Motorola Partner Programme – and we could encourage resellers to discuss these with us in detail – non-membership is now no longer a barrier to obtaining the devices for sale to the end user. We are aware that many resellers find themselves with an immediate opportunity to sell the TC55 to their customers and we don't want the possible non-membership of our Partner Programme to be an obstacle to making a sale. Resellers can always apply to become members of the Partner Programme at a later date." Resellers who are not in the Motorola Partner Programme can click here for more information on the advantages the TC55 offers.
Total Cost of Ownership
Northcott added that there is also a highly compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) aspect to consider when sourcing a mobile device. "A report from independent analyst organisation VDC Research comments that if the device is 1% more likely to break that would potentially increase total cost of ownership by around 5%. If a user uses his or her smartphone within a business context and damages it, this could mean the person has no clear visibility of what the next scheduled job is, or is unable to keep inventory records up-to-date. Also, end-customers might be unhappy because their goods are not being delivered within the specified timeframe, or because they are not having their machine serviced on time."
Motorola offers its partners access to online Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) tools. In order to better determine the overall lifecycle costs associated with Motorola's business-to-business devices compared with more consumer-grade products, partners can log on to the TCO site and effectively build the price comparison for the customer. Partners can, for example, key in the purchase costs, timeframe of the project and other relevant data. The calculator then produces a 6 page report that analyses the TCO over the entire project. Motorola's partners can even use the tool with their customers as a consultative tool. For example, to vary the inputs to see the impact on the overall cost of ownership.
Summarising the benefits of the TC55 Touch Computer, Northcott commented: "With the look and feel of a consumer device, and with the wide-ranging benefits of a rugged enterprise mobile computer, the TC55 really should be considered as the device of choice for field professionals. Moreover, with the additional Total Cost of Ownership benefits, coupled with Motorola's new Open Class route to market for resellers – and with a six-year sales and support lifecycle designed to meet extended roll outs and business growth – this makes the package even more compelling."
For more information about the Motorola TC55, please visit: http://bit.ly/tc55open
For more information on the TC55 and the other mobile devices Motorola offers, please visit: www.motorolasolutions.com/XU-EN/Enterprise+Mobility
To become a Motorola partner please visit: http://partnerapply.motorolasolutions.com/?lg=en_US&rg=EMEA