Article | September 10, 2014

The Multi-Million Dollar Problem With Mobile Devices, And How To Fix It

By Mike Grosberg,President and Chief Operating Officer, Global Technology Systems

The introduction of new technologies is essential for efficiency in business today, but these technologies often impact he bottom line in ways that aren’t expected. Most large stores recently have an average of 60 wireless devices per store, ranging from barcode scanners and portable printers to handheld computers and mobile POS systems, all of which are critical for daily operations.

While these devices have reaped big dividends in worker efficiency and mobility, they also require constant maintenance, which in turn requires businesses to spend huge amounts of money on service contracts. These contracts are certainly necessary to protect the investments that have been made in mobility, but many business owners don’t have a handle on the underlying factors that drive the price. For example, when a device is sent to the depot, but a problem can’t be identified, the device is returned No Trouble Found or “NTF”. When this happens, which it often does, the device owner is still responsible for paying the shipping each way, call desk fees, diagnostic fees and more. NTFs are viewed by most as an unavoidable price that must be paid for mobility, but what is the actual cause?

Small Batteries, Big Problems
More often than not, the cause is ultimately the battery. Mobile devices rely on battery power, but many of these device users fail to connect the dots between unhealthy batteries, lost productivity and sky rocketing maintenance fees. When a device fails in the middle of the day, a significant amount of time and productivity is wasted going to get a new battery to swap in for the old one, but more often than not, the new battery doesn’t last long either. Batteries with diminished capacities will show that they are fully charged more quickly than a battery that is actually healthy. Logically the owner chooses the battery showing a full charge, but then the device continues to fail, wasting their time, until they send it into the depot. Due to the fact that service contracts typically either don’t include batteries or woefully mismanage them, the device will be returned “NTF”, when all along a new battery was the answer.

Transforming Batteries To A Managed Asset
One organization decided to finally do something about the out of control maintenance costs that the business was paying. Noticeably, there was no system in place for disposing of batteries. This meant that the batteries stayed in service far longer than they should, driving work stoppages and service costs. In search of that innovative solution, this organization reached out to the market place. Auditors were hired to visit every store equipped with cutting edge battery testing equipment. Every battery was tested and either left in service or replaced. All the bad batteries were recycled, and perhaps most impressively the whole chain was completed in a month, so the stores were running smoothly as they headed into peak. The results were staggering. Over 130,000 batteries were tested, about 60% were replaced, and NTFs immediately dropped by 94%, service calls fell 64%, and ultimately the savings came out to $9M annually, far exceeding the cost of the program.

Mobile devices are a necessity to almost every worker in business today, and they are only as good as the batteries that power them. Unhealthy batteries are a money draining problem that most mobile device owners don’t even realize they have. Most would be shocked to realize the underlying costs associated with batteries, but the potential for savings is huge. Field service coupled with reliable technology has proven to reap significant ROI, from a problem that has gone unnoticed too long.

Mike Grosberg is President and Chief Operating Officer for Global Technology Systems, an expert in power management technologies for essential mobile devices.