Transforming Field Services Through Unified Endpoint Management

In the years gone by, non-enterprise sectors have always taken a leisurely pace in deploying modern solutions on account of them being too expensive or complex

The digital transformation of the workforce, on the other hand, is not limited to the four walls of the workspace. For years devices like barcode scanners, POS machines etc. have been used extensively in the fields. However, the inception of IoT brought with it a whole new class of smart rugged devices. These next-generation gadgets are designed to withstand severe temperatures and coarse environments 

Major rugged device OEMs like Samsung, Kyocera, Honeywell, Panasonic, Zebra and others have used these devices in various sectors. Rugged smartphones and tablets are being used in the construction, manufacturing and mining fields. The built-in RFID and barcode scanners in rugged handhelds make it easy for workers in logistics and retail to manage their inventory. IoT enables these devices to wirelessly communicate with servers for effortless inventory management. The ability of rugged vehicle-mounted computers and laptops to withstand extreme conditions and high usage makes them ideal for military personnel requiring purpose-built mission-critical devices. Even the healthcare industry takes advantage of their rugged nature so that healthcare workers need not add device health to their long list of responsibilities. However, when there are so many endpoints spread out across such a large region, efficient management becomes hard, taking a toll on productivity. Leaving these devices in the field unsupervised also opens up the corporate network to a cluster of security vulnerabilities. Inexperienced employees could log in using public WIFI, visit malicious websites or choose weak passwords. The existing field service management solutions are more focused on managing employees rather than endpoints. This gap in management is where unified endpoint management(UEM) solutions come in. Most UEMs today have integrations in place with OEMs resulting in out-of-the-box onboarding. 

How UEMs manage the devices in the field  

Evolving over two decades from mobile device management (MDM) to enterprise mobility management (EMM) to UEM, these applications disentangle the task of managing the surfeit of mobile devices, including rugged devices. UEM solutions are designed to keep employees productive by monitoring endpoints, blacklisting undesired services, pushing applications and software updates remotely, enforcing security policies, and consistently providing mobile threat protection capabilities.  

Keep track of every endpoint 

Unlike enterprise sectors, field services are not restricted to any one location; they could be operating in different parts of the world away from the management and IT teams. The challenge of tracking the various company assets can be accomplished using geolocation tracking. The real-time scans can even set policies to ensure that the assets are not taken away from the workplace. 

Gain complete visibility  

Managing all the devices working inside a corporate building is already a hassle for IT teams. Throwing a scattered workforce adds more oil to the fire. Fortunately, remote support is the link to ensure efficient management. Today’s IT administrators require the ability to view and control all the endpoints under their supervision remotely. This saves time for everyone involved and provides support professionals with the visibility and control they need to conduct a good diagnosis and deliver a speedy resolution to the problem that end users are facing. Most modern UEMs come with remote access functionalities or provide integrations with third-party remote access applications. 

Lock down the rugged devices into corporate kiosks 

Most modern rugged devices are powerful mobile devices capable of running even ram-hungry applications. However, different sectors have different use cases for their devices. The applications and services required by healthcare organizations are disparate from the ones needed by a construction company or a media firm.  

UEMs can ensure that corporate-issued devices are used only for work by locking them down into kiosks. These kiosks may be set up to run in single-app or multi-app mode with support for the creation and lockdown of web-based apps. While in kiosk mode, all device functionalities except the assigned applications are locked down, preventing anyone but the admin from accessing them. Furthermore, Kiosks can also be configured as digital signages commonly found in hospitals, airports etc., broadcasting preconfigured images and videos.  

Any organization that uses multiple devices can use UEMs to simplify, secure and manage their fleet. The new developments in 5G and artificial intelligence will only expedite the use of rugged devices in the field. As the digital transformation revs on, modern cloud-based solutions like UEMs will be the pillars that support the digital era. 

About the Author

Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Mitsogo Inc, which is home to the award-winning Unified Endpoint Management platform, Hexnode. Hexnode helps businesses manage mobile, desktop and workplace IoT devices from a single place.

Featured image: ©Tampatra