Design and Construction

Why I Love My Tablet (and Why the Devices Don’t Belong on Workplace Walls)

I just want to say I love my tablet. It is a happy medium between my bulky laptop and tiny smartphone. 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. The devices are hugely popular; nearly 40 million tablets were shipped in the first quarter of 2021 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 technology that can go anywhere… well, almost anywhere.

In corporate environments though? For quickly jotting down ideas or making sketches, sure! But facilities managers can easily make the mistake of deploying them in applications such as digital displays, digital signage, or room panels, which is a big no-no! 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 sorts of smart home IoT gadgets and sensors.

Facilities managers fall into the trap of thinking that just because their home-use tablet is convenient, the devices would also serve well for a variety of applications in the corporate environment. However, consumer-grade IoT devices in corporate environments are a recipe for disaster, and here’s why:

Let’s start with the benefits. In the short run, the initial purchase price is 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 needs of organizations to solve often quite specific or even unique challenges 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 possibly 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 the manufacturer has phone support, that is—before you get through to someone who is 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 who knows that every moment of downtime is costing your organization money.

Lax Security

Consumer-grade IoT is low-hanging fruit for those with nefarious motives. Security is often 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 any facilities manager worth their salt would do best to avoid!

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.

John C. Wang is co-founder and CEO of IAdea Corp., a company focusing on transforming the world with digital signage technologies.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Facilities Management Advisor.

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