Uncontrolled Costs Lurking in Your Mobile Devices

By JR Rodrigues — September 15, 2016

Mobile devices have empowered retail organizations to take their sales, customer service and operations functions to higher levels of performance as required by today’s demanding consumers.  However, the devices’ power sources (i.e., their batteries) are vulnerable to often unseen costs and risks for the organization.  All batteries, mobile or otherwise, build up impedance and gradually fail over time.  And failing batteries can cause all kinds of problems.

For example, real world data collected from major retail, logistics, and public safety organizations show that, in many cases, over 100% of mobile devices are sent in for repair annually.  The alarming fact is that up to 30% of them are misdiagnosed by staff because the device is fine, but the batteries are failing.  This not only increases device (and employee) downtime, but also increases repair and/or service agreement costs. 

Some organizations simply buy more and more inventory (both devices and batteries) to deal with the downtime issue, thereby increasing inventory costs.  However, even when new batteries are brought in, the failing batteries typically are not removed from working inventory because employees cannot really tell a good battery from a failing one.  In fact, perversely, failing batteries charge up more quickly than good batteries (because bad batteries take less of a charge) and many employees think that a fast charge is a sign of a good battery. 

Also consider an employee with a mobile device that fails after an hour due to a bad battery.  He returns to the depot and grabs another bad battery from the pool and that one also only lasts for a short time.  Now the employee is convinced that it is the device’s fault, because two fully charged batteries failed in it.  He then sends the device in to be serviced.  So, the false device “failures” and unnecessary downtime continue despite new batteries being purchased.  It is a cycle of failure that is hard to break.

Some organizations decide to replace their mobile devices with a newer and improved upgrade version of the device to try to overcome the failure rate and downtime that they are experiencing due, in part, to failing batteries.  Usually, such an upgrade will come with all new batteries and the old, failing batteries are no longer compatible with the new device, so the “problem” is temporarily solved until the new batteries inevitably build up impedance and begin to fail.  Then the bad battery problems begin all over again.

The increased downtime from this falsely inflated failure rate caused by keeping bad batteries in use not only adds to TCO, but also can hurt sales, employee morale, and the overall customer experience, depending on how mobility is used within the organization.  That’s why organizations running mobile devices must put in place a Mobile Power Management Plan to identify and remove failing batteries from their inventories.  Regularly identifying bad batteries and removing them from the “cycle of failure” will dramatically reduce costs and increase productivity at the point where they are used in the organization.

-JR Rodrigues, VP Marketing, Global Technology Systems, Inc.
 

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