Evaluating Dedicated Devices for Global Scale
Dedicated devices are ubiquitous — and for good reason. For many use-cases BYOD (bring your own device) is impossible and for others it’s impractical. This is true whether you’re a mom-and-pop restaurant with one location, a global retail chain, or a startup with a brilliant new wearable health monitor.
What’s also true is that scaling your dedicated device for global distribution isn’t as simple as building more units and shipping them off to new countries. Global scaling of digital devices requires a solid strategy to ensure the best cost, reliability, and ROI. Many companies fail to take some key challenges into consideration before scaling up, and that can mean a slow time-to-market, lost revenue, and even product failure.
Fortunately, evaluating dedicated devices for global scale is simply a matter of understanding what you need to be compatible internationally, and applying smart logistical strategies for getting there efficiently. Having a great partner by your side in that endeavor can help as well.
Hardware Sourcing Methods
The best time to consider global scale is right from the get-go. Planning for eventual international distribution at the start of a product’s development ensures the solution will be elegant and efficient. Without prior planning for scaling, your product may have to be re-tooled from the ground up later (at great expense), or inelegant kludges may be put in place for international devices.
At the heart of this pre-planning stage is understanding the three sourcing methods available for any kind of dedicated device:
- COTS (Consumer-off-the-Shelf) Devices: This method is simple: use normal, readily available devices like iPhones or iPads, for example, and retool them for your specific use. Typically, this would involve some type of MDM to lock the device down. Immediate cost and time-to-market are obvious advantages to this method. Simply pick the right device and move to stage 2 without extra R&D.
- DIY or In House Design: This means your team or a hired manufacturer designs and builds your device and loads a customized operating system built for your use. This method gives you the kind of control you can’t get using a COTS device. The initial outlay is higher here, but over the long run, you may see better ROI.
- MIaaS (Mobile Infrastructure as a Service): This kind of vendor offers enterprise-first mobile devices, developer tools for creating a custom OS, and cloud services to manage your device fleet. For many use-cases, MIaaS presents a best-of-both-worlds scenario. Get the control, white-label customization, and long-term cost efficiency you’d get from an in-house solution along with the speed-to-market and lower initial investment inherent to COTS solutions. Mason is the only company that offers this method as a full-stack, end-to-end service.
Challenges to Expanding the Use of Dedicated Devices
Whether you’re a well-established global enterprise or just now looking to scale up globally, a number of challenges come up for international dedicated devices, no matter what they are. Meeting these challenges in an efficient and cost-effective way is the key to making sure you succeed with any globally available dedicated device.
Obviously, dedicated devices need connectivity. Unfortunately, a device operating on cellular bands specific to one country such as the United States may not be well suited for another country. Ideally, you wouldn’t have to roll out different devices for every single country you plan to deliver to, but it’s important to take international connectivity into consideration. If you’re not careful, you could be rolling out 100 different products with 100 different SKUs, significantly increasing your cost and time-to-market.
Each country requires its own set of certifications to legally operate devices. Batteries, cellular bands, and electromagnetic interference are a few examples of things that will need approval and certification. Again, if you don’t plan well, you could find yourself shipping multiple SKUs to account for various requirements.
It’s not often mentioned, but translation could be a major issue when shipping devices internationally. Yes, some countries have a majority of English-speaking users, but many don’t. Even in countries with a preponderance of English speakers, it’s a better practice to make device interfaces available in the native language. There are many ways to go about this and some are more efficient than others. For example, software with a language setting will change over more efficiently than devices with physical buttons in English.
4. Cellular Vendors
Cell vendors are different in every country. This means separate SIM cards and separate contracts. Either you or your vendor needs to handle this correctly to avoid unwieldy roaming charges.
Can Dedicated Devices Work on a Global Scale?
The short answer is yes: dedicated devices can and do work on a global scale. Whether an international rollout is ultimately successful depends on smart planning and taking all potential obstacles into account. Ultimately this starts with choosing the right hardware source.
Each methodology has its pros and cons, but to cut to the chase: a MIaaS sourcing method such as Mason’s end-to-end, full-stack solution is designed to shine on the international stage.
For starters, mobile infrastructure providers have or can add on international certifications and manage those certifications for the entire life cycle of your device. Next, devices are designed from the beginning with global specs in mind, meaning devices come out of the box with global connectivity — no multiple SKU problems. One device, all locations. Finally, SIM cards and international data plans can be handled by your MIaaS provider.
All this leads to a better ROI and a time-to-market measured in days rather than months, which means you’ll beat out the competition by being faster and more robust.
Delegate Obstacles and Focus on a Great Product
At the end of the day, your job is to provide a great experience for your end-users. That’s why a MIaaS sourcing solution outshines other methods for getting your hardware produced and ready to ship. Why manage international considerations when you can have the entire process taken care of while you focus on building the application and design you know will work best for users?