Devices are as fundamental to a business as a business plan. What’s great about modern devices is that they support a wide range of advanced business applications that can manage your work-flow from anywhere. But with the market always releasing new and better devices, how do you know which one to choose?
Here are four tips to keep in mind when considering buying devices for your business.
1. What key features should I be looking for?
Modern features range from security screening to solar charged projectors. It’s important to research what’s non-negotiable for your business, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need every last invention.
Here are some vital features you shouldn’t compromise on – the rest are ‘nice-to-have’s’
- Good quality speakers and camera for conference calling
- A dual-core processor, particularly the Intel Core i3/i5 series that allows you to run multiple programmes. If you plan to run more heavy-duty apps then opt for a quad-core processor like the Intel Core i5/i7s
- A battery life of at least eight hours
- Enough USB ports to support projectors, screens and other hardware
- At least 4GB of RAM. If you do a lot of graphic design work then this should increase
- 500GB – 1TB of hard drive storage
- Dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi. Some laptops are available with built-in wireless modems that connect to available cellular networks.
- A brand that offers the required level of support
- Shelf life – choose a device with the most up to date operating system, like Windows 10.
2. How secure is the device?
Every company has sensitive data and the last thing you want is someone being able to collect information like login credentials and credit-card details belonging to your employees or clients. An operating system like Windows 10 comes with enterprise grade security features that are automatically updated. An additional layer includes devices that support a password-free way to quickly log in with a look or a touch, through fingerprint and iris identification.
If you have a Bring Your Own Device policy (BYOD) you need to take extra precautions with security. It’s worth asking employees what their preferred device is for their specific job function, and purchase this for them. This gives you extra control over their security settings and functions that should be streamlined across the business.
3. Which devices are affordable as well as reliable?
As much as it is important to choose premium devices, not every device will deliver on its promise. Before having the affordability conversation, do your research to find out exactly what you want. This prevents you from being swayed by advertisements for fancy gizmos and sleek looks that will increase cost, but add no value to the running of your business.
Read online reviews and talk to your peers before-hand. Once you know what you are looking for, find out what is both cost-effective and reliable.
Good tablets and notebooks with an Intel i5 processor are available for less than R 7 000 and can integrate into PC mode with a portable keyboard. However, they often do not have an optimal battery life, or full HD display – important if you’re giving lots of presentations. Devices that cost between R 8 500 – R 13 000 should give you the optimum range and specs with some nice finishes.
Above R 13 000 you are paying extra for more portability, better graphics and faster processors. If you are running complex business applications, graphic design and video editing or gaming software, you should consider looking in this price bracket.
4. Can the device ensure productivity even outside of the office?
It is safe to say tablets are one of the best creations. They are easier to carry around and can function just as well as a laptop, not forgetting that they are a great tool for presentations to prospective customers, anywhere and anytime.
A tablet with crisp photo resolution and bright colours that will show off your portfolio of work is always the best option. But, ensure that your tablet doesn’t limit you in terms of storage capacity and computing power. These days there are many 2-in-1 devices with the computing power of a traditional PC, but with features like detachable screens to make them flexible.
You may also derive value from a touch screen, but it can eat into battery life. You don’t want to be stuck with a device that will bring more frustration than simplicity so choose well and do lots of research.
By Nick Keene, SMB Lead at Microsoft SA