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Q&A with Zebra Technologies on their TC5 Series

(Image credit: Image Credit: Zebra Technologies)

1. What are some of the key industry trends that are shaping the future of the mobile-computing industry?    

Millennials now account for more than 50 percent of the workforce and they come with a new set of expectations for enterprise technology. Employees are accustomed to consumer mobile devices that they use frequently for personal interactions and expect the same user experience from their enterprise devices. The TC51 and TC56 address this need with a redesigned look and feel, combined with enterprise-class features, power, security and manageability so there is no need to compromise device design for enterprise functionality. 

According to IDC, Android dominates the smartphone market with a share of 86.8%. Zebra Technologies has taken this into consideration and is expanding its Android-based mobile computing portfolio with the new TC5 series (TC51/TC56), which is as modern and easy to use as consumer smartphones – eliminating the need to compromise device design for enterprise functionality. In addition to this, Android is more flexible than iOS, as iOS is severely limited as far as permissions go. If an enterprise customer wants an Android device with specific requirements — color, dimension, aspect ratio, etc., Android is more likely to provide those specifications than iOS. 

2. How are these mobile-computing trends effecting the Retail as well as Transport and Logistics sectors? 

A key mobile-computing trend effecting these sectors is the emphasis on improving mobile user experience. Businesses across the Retail and the Transport and Logistics industries are adopting a widespread of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. A recent report found 76% of Millennials tend to use mobile devices more than laptops or desktops, with a lot of transactions taking place over mobile devices, thus, businesses now need to respond to this factor. Zebra is ensuring it stays ahead of the enterprise marketing by ensuring its products listen to current products, for instance, the TC51/TC56 include an active edge touch zone for one-touch access to the features the user uses the most. This improves mobile user experience for workers in retail, transport and logistic businesses by reducing the time needed to go to certain applications. 

3. How do such advancements help companies in these sectors meet the needs of their customers?    

The TC5 Series drives greater productivity and creates efficiencies that enable employees to spend more time with customers and serve them better. The mobile computers are professional looking and can be displayed to customers to help employees better understand and meet their needs. 

4. What are the top drivers in mobile-computer design at the moment?    

While previous mobile computing models have performed very strongly, there’s an emerging demand from today’s workforce for devices with consumer-oriented designs, like the personal devices they use regularly. Like previous models, the TC5 Series retains the benefits of a purpose-built enterprise solution but have been redesigned for a better end user experience.   

The TC5 Series features innovative productivity design features to help improve user satisfaction including an easily removable and replaceable battery pack, a large 5-inch display and customizable Active Edge™ Touch Zones and back case button for one touch access to the most frequently used device features and apps. 

Zebra saw consumer device companies increasingly targeting traditional enterprise customers with their cool and familiar look, but these devices are not engineered to perform in the demanding enterprise environment. To address this emerging need, Zebra designed the TC5 Series with the end user in mind. Additionally, listening to customer input and from past design language features like the connector set and ActiveEdge TM Touch Zones ensure long life cycle and increase productivity. 

5. We hear a lot about the increasing importance of ‘user-friendly’ devices, why is this becoming so important and what defines a user-friendly experience? 

For a device in the warehouse to provide a user-friendly experience, it should master the ultimate combination of being intuitive to use, while remaining robust and reliable in a business setting.   

User-friendly devices reduce time needed for training employees in the warehouse, which is why it is important for new technologies to ensure ease-ability. One of the key attributes that defines a user-friendly device is ensuring devices can handle anything thrown at them. For instance, Zebra’s TC5s series can be dropped in water or onto concrete and used in dusty areas. This is important for the end user as users work in a wide variety of environments, thus, need devices that can adapt to meet their needs. 

Another aspect that defines a user-friendly experience is reducing time needed to complete tasks. One of the key problems faced is poor scanning of assets, which Zebra’s engineers have solved through a new feature called ‘PRZM Intelligent Imaging’, which offers lightning fast capture of 1D and 2D barcodes, even if they are damaged, dirty and poorly printed — or displayed on a screen. An extraordinary working range plus a wide field of view increases application flexibility — workers can scan barcodes nearer and farther away. And omnidirectional scanning delivers true point and shoot — there is no need to ever align barcode and scanner.   

6. Where do consumer devices fall short in the enterprise? Why would companies choose these new innovations over more-familiar brand devices? 

Consumer brand devices may appeal to some with their familiar look and feel and “cool factor,” however, they are not purpose-built for the enterprise and lack essential features. Unlike consumer devices, Zebra’s TC51 and TC56 are more than just handheld devices; they connect enterprises to an ecosystem of support, software and services designed to transform business performance today and into the future. 

Businesses need a rugged device, one that will survive countless drops on concreate and into water. while lasting for years with all the features needed to enable workers to achieve peak productivity in the field and keep your data secure. Designed for the new business world, the TC56 industrial design looks and feels like the most popular pocketable consumer-style smartphones to meet employees’ expectations, along with the enterprise-class features, power, 4G/LTE cellular connectivity, security and manageability businesses requires.  

7. What’s next for the future of enterprise mobile computing?     

An assumption, which many businesses have is that they need to make their employees work harder to improve productivity. At Zebra Technologies, we believe that in order to improve productivity, businesses need to change how they work. That’s why our key focus is on delivering products that use time more efficiently: instant scanning, improved battery back, fast charging, quick pairing between devices and quick scanning. 

Andy McBain, Head of Regional Product Management, EMEA at Zebra Technologies   

Image Credit: Zebra Technologies

Andy McBain
With over 15yrs Product Management experience, Andy’s focus is on bringing the Android OS into the Enterprise space, having worked on the launches of TC55, MC67 and TC70 for Zebra.