For years, “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) has been a dependable staple of top tech trend lists.  Originally started by employees demanding to use their own devices for business purposes, companies realized that they could boost productivity and decrease costs by adopting BYOD.

Should your enterprise adopt BYOD? Below is a summary of the pros and cons.

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Employees are happy to pay employers’ costs

To a certain extent, BYOD is part of a larger trend of employers shifting costs to employees. Some cost-conscious companies have declared long-time workers to be independent contractors. Workers are not only stripped of benefits, but also forced to pay for their own equipment.

The irony is that BYOD is often demanded by employees. The increased cost to them is usually negligible (they have personal smartphones anyway), and they are saved the hassle of dealing with a separate business device.

The first response by enterprises to BYOD is often negative. IT hates the nightmare of supporting apps for multi-platform use. More importantly, employers worry about securing proprietary information on the employees’ personal devices, which is by far the number one objection to BYOD.

A pretty good example of this is the military. When soldiers started bringing their own devices into theater (even into combat), the military was initially appalled.  How could they possibly keep information secure on consumer devices?

While the security issue is still not resolved, the military is actively exploring BYOD.  For one thing, they see it as a way of leveraging the leading edge of consumer technology.

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Work better by checking your personal email

Probably the single biggest benefit of BYOD is increased employee productivity.  Given the flexibility of choosing their own device, applications, and service plans, workers have been extremely innovative in increasing their efficiency. Another reason for increased productivity is that employees are more likely to work on business activities during their personal time if they can do so on their own devices. Counter-intuitively, according to an exhaustive international study by Cisco, performing personal tasks during business hours also increases employee productivity. Think about that the next time the boss yells at you for playing Clash of Clans.

BYOD = Mobility

It is no coincidence that BYOD emerged as smartphones and tablets conquered the world. Smartphones is the overwhelming device of choice for BYOD with tablets rapidly gaining ground.

Some enterprises have seen BYOD as an efficient way to “go mobile.” No longer anchored to the office, employees can work from home or on the road. Switching work activities from desktop to smartphones is also considered beneficial, because “smartphones are the wave of the future,” i.e. all the cool kids are doing it.

Indeed, mobile phone use is so closely tied to BYOD that their benefits have become blurred. People touting BYOD talk about the wonderfulness of networking employees as well as the importance of sharing and distributing information. When the negatives are discussed, increased use of corporate Wi-Fi is sometimes mentioned, a phenomena that would happen with business-issued smartphones as well.

Your mileage may vary

By any standard, BYOD has been successful. According to Cisco’s study, “….69 percent of IT decision makers (up to 88 percent in some countries) feel that BYOD is a positive development for their organization.”

You may read BYOD enthusiasts citing costs benefits of BYOD. Cisco’s report states that companies can save up to “$1,650 per mobile employee.” The problem with these claims is that benefits are far from uniform.

For one thing, local culture plays a big factor. I wasn’t surprise to learn, for example, that workers using BYOD in Germany had negligible productivity gains. This is just anecdotal evidence, but an inventive acquaintance of mine went nuts working in Germany. He performed every task efficiently, under budget, and before deadline, but his employers hated him.  In the US, employers tell workers to perform task X and will often let them decide how to do it. In fact, they will encourage them to come up with new ideas. In Germany, my friend was told to “perform task X by completing the following steps…” Despite the fact that he successfully did his job, his original approach upset his superiors.  If you live in a culture (or work in a company) that doesn’t value employee innovation, you are unlikely to benefit from BYOD.

Everybody is a winner! (Except for those who lose)

Some supporters will spout various numerous financial benefits of BYOD (“20 to 30% savings!”) without mentioning that these high numbers apply only to the small minority of companies that employ “comprehensive BYOD.” “Comprehensive BYOD” is a term used by Cisco to describe systematic preparation for enterprise-wide integration of BYOD. Unfortunately, it is far more common for enterprises to have a poorly thought-out ad hoc approach for BYOD adoption. See insert below for Cisco’s list of “comprehensive BYOD” capabilities.

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Some of the items in the above list illustrate a serious drawback to BYOD. If an enterprise adopts the “comprehensive BYOD” approach, employees may object to the loss of privacy. It is one thing to have monitoring software on a company desktop, but it is another to concede even partial control of your personal smartphone to an employer.

In conversation on a social website, a BYOD supporter claimed that some of these problems can be avoided through cloud applications. Say you’re a company with a highly prized list of clients. Your salesmen want access to this list on their personal smartphones.  Fine you say, as long as you can remote wipe the data on their phones. After all, you don’t want them quitting and taking the list to a competitor.

However, your salesmen are uncomfortable with their employer having any kind of control whatsoever over their personal devices. A solution is posting the list on the cloud (many Customer Relationship Management apps are cloud-based anyway). This solution doesn’t completely eliminate the problem of “data walking out the door,” but it does allow salesman to access to sensitive information, without feeling that their boss is snooping around their phone.

Look before you BYOD

Before adopting BYOD, you need to examine your specific situation. If you operate in a medical environment, how will you address the rather-strict rules on patient privacy? If you want your students to use their own devices for homework, what precautions do you need to curtail cheating? The benefits of BYOD are real, but as with any innovation, you should think carefully before adopting.


The Public Wants & Fears Wearable Computers [VIDEO]

PwC summarized a ton of research about the public’s attitude toward wearable computers. The video below gives a nice overview:

For even more data, visit their consumer intelligence series webpage.

AMREL Offers Unprecedented Choices for Mobile Avionic Solutions

AvionicsClusterAMREL now offers a full line of turn-key, fully rugged avionics solutions, complete with integrated MIL-STD-1553 cards. Form factors for stand-alone solutions include tablets, laptops, and handhelds.  AMREL mobile avionic solutions directly communicate to aircrafts without an intermediate server.

“It’s really a question of capabilities,” explained Kalvin Chen, AMREL’s VP of Operations.  “AMREL is known for our fully, rugged mobile computers, but we are also a customization company.  We saw a demand for lightweight, portable avionic solutions and simply adapted our existing line.”

By integrating state-of-the-art MIL-STD 1553 cards, AMREL has given its customers an unprecedented range of options for communicating with aircraft. Once modified for avionic solutions, AMREL’s battle-tested tablets, laptops, and handhelds can be used for a wide variety of applications including bus troubleshooting, diagnostic systems, and data loading. Compact, small-footprint, single solution devices are an AMREL specialty, so no peripheral devices are necessary.

“We work with our customers to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet their requirements,” reports Mr. Chen, “Of course, the manufacturer’s guarantee extends to the modifications we make. We are the only rugged computer manufacturer that makes that offer.”

AMREL’s Avionic Solutions are independently certified for IP65 and the MIL-STD 810 (environmental ruggedness). Crafted with 30 years of ruggedness experience, their proven durability minimizes downtimes and lost data due to accidents and breakage.

Whatever your need, AMREL has an avionic solution for you:

  • ROCKY DB6 Handheld (5” display, smallest full Win 7 platform on the market)
  • ROCKY DK10 Tablet (12” display)
  • ROCKY RK10 Laptop (15” display)
  • ROCKY RF10 Laptop (17” display, largest in the rugged market)

For more information, visit:


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Counter IED training & Mobile Devices

C-IED & Mobile devicesWhen I researched this article about Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) training, I couldn’t help thinking about communities near Tijuana in which the the homes are built out of discarded garage doors.  Garage doors aren’t the first thing anyone thinks of when building a house, but the people near the border didn’t have building materials.  So, they looked around and found what was available: discarded garage doors.

Similarly, the military has a problem: training.  As the land wars wind down in Asia (sort of), training domestically becomes more important.  Simultaneously, training budgets are being squeezed. Future operational goals are unpredictable, so training for diverse scenarios is necessary. Live training is expensive, so more has to be done with less.  Rapid technological change means rapid change in doctrine and tactics. It is important that feedback from ongoing missions be incorporated as soon as possible into training.

Just like the folks in Tijuana, the military looked around for available materials to solve their problems.  What they found were mobile devices.  Just like garage doors are not normally associated as the basic building materials for houses, nobody in boot camp ever told a soldier that their best friend is their smart phone.

So far, mobile devices have proven to be a pretty good fit. Mobile devices are excellent platforms for virtual programs, videos, interactive simulation systems, and smart books. Familiarity with specialized military apps allows the soldier to seamlessly transition to operations in which mobile devices are used as lightweight, mobile repositories for doctrinal manuals, as well as maintenance & technical manuals. They can even be used for educational games (in the past soldiers learned to identify soviet aircraft from specially designed playing cards).

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Their single most important quality of mobile devices is that they are dynamic.  No more paper manuals or books that are outdated by the time they are printed. Mobile devices can be updated instantly.

The embrace of mobile devices for training reflects a subtle, but meaningful change. The old model of attending a class where a teacher pours knowledge into a soldier’s empty heads is fading.  Instead, the soldier is trained to learn.  He is given personal responsibility for his education and he is expected to be disciplined about continuously improving his skill sets. He will carry this self-motivated attitude into the field, where he will need to constantly refresh his knowledge. The 24/7, anywhere, anytime nature of mobile devices fits this outlook perfectly.

The old formula to deal with the ever increasing burden of training soldiers was “train the trainer.” The new model may be described as “equip the learner.”

These trends are reflected in counter IED training. Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is tasked with countering the “number one killer of Soldiers on the current battlefields worldwide.”  As they state on their training webpage, “Because the IED threat is constantly changing, the counter-IED fight is dynamic, and maintaining effectiveness remains an enduring requirement of training solution development.”  Just like the rest of the military, JIEDDO has embraced mobile devices as a solution for the need of continuous training.

For the purposes of C-IED training, JIEDDO’s Instructional Technology Development Team (ITDT) developed what it describes as “Digital Learning Content products.”  It is telling that these “products” support several types of learning: institutional, operational, and self-development.  Just offering these options conveys an important message; a warfighter’s training never ceases.

Through its Joint Center of Excellence, (JCOE), JIEDDO has a small team of personnel located in Afghanistan conducting an exhaustive lessons-learned program.   Brigade and regimental combat team staffs are debriefed at 90-day, mid-tour, and post-deployment milestones.  Training is updated with relevant information.

Let’s formulate a hypothetical example in which updated information could be critical. The enemy favors planting IEDs on roads a military vehicle has previously used. Currently, warfighters use a map application on their mobile devices to avoid routes that have been already traveled.  Suppose the enemy wises up to this tactic? Considering the flexibility and ingenuity they have shown in the past, this is certainly possible. A sudden switch in tactics could make the most-used road the safest one. Thanks to mobile devices, a warfighter can be informed of this life-saving information in real time.

In keeping with the military’s aversion to committing to any specific hardware, these Digital Learning Content products are available on multiple platforms. The Digital Learning Content products described above were deliberately designed to function within a “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” environment.

However, as the distinction between training and deployment becomes blurred, the military cannot ignore basic hardware issues.  If mobile devices are used for field training (and communication, situational awareness, and other purposes), how secure is it?  Is the information on it secure if a soldier is captured with his mobile device?   Is a password log-in good enough protection?   Is there a software solution that can thoroughly wipe the hard drive if the wrong key combination is pressed?   Or does it require a physical anti-tamper device that melts the whole thing down?  If it does have wireless and/or Bluetooth, how do you make it hack/virus/malware proof?

The military has focused on creating applications, specifically to avoid committing to one hardware device. Obviously, this is completely impractical for devices carried in theater.  Logistics for heterogeneous platforms would be a nightmare.

Which brings us to the critical issue of ruggedness. Commercial mobile devices, such as smartphones, are notoriously fragile. Obviously, fully rugged devices are needed in theater. If training is designed to seamlessly blend from stateside to areas of operations, doesn’t it make sense to use the same mobile device? Rugged mobile devices for domestic training would decrease the amount of downtime due to equipment failure and breakage.

JIEDDO has made significant progress in incorporating mobile devices into their training, and adjusting their doctrine to meet contemporary needs.  Still, more needs to be done.

For more information on rugged mobile devices, contact Rob Culver, AMREL’s Director of Business Development – DoD Programs. He can be reached at (603) 325 3376 or

How to buy a tablet for your construction business

constructionsiteThinking of buying tablets for your construction business? Here are 5 things you should consider before you lay your money down.

1) Do you really need a tablet, rather than just keep on using paper and pencils?  This is probably a no brainer, since the advantages of tablets are so clear:

  • Save time by entering data once. No more transferring handwritten information to a computer
  • Improved communications. Fewer telephone calls to the home office since workers can make requests from the worksite.
  • Greater efficiency. Workers can bring virtually the information they need with them. No more rushing back to the office for that one diagram someone forgot to bring.
  • Decreased paper work and printing costs. Over the long run, this and other advantages more than compensates for the cost of the tablet itself.

About the only disadvantage tablet has over the traditional paper and pen method is the learning curve, i.e. it takes time and effort for the workers to learn how to use them and for the organization to adapt.  However, this initial inconvenience is overwhelmed by the eventual benefits.

2) Should you buy a rugged device? Traditionally, there are two downsides to a rugged device; expense and bulk, but both of these disadvantages are rapidly disappearing. A report by VDC Research demonstrated that in the long run, rugged computers save money.  Fewer downtimes, less lost data, and less lost work more than make up for the higher initial cost.  This is especially important on a construction site, where work can grind to a halt due to a cracked screen. In addition, rugged computer developers have made a lot of progress in reducing the size and weight of their products. Even rugged laptops have gotten smaller.  For example, the ROCKY RS11 rugged laptop is only an inch thick.

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3) How can I tell if it is rugged? This can be difficult.  There is no regulatory agency that determines “ruggedness.”  In theory, I could stick a power supply on a banana and call it a rugged computer. Some unscrupulous computer manufacturers claim ruggedness, or invent marketing terms, such as “semi-rugged,” or “business rugged,” when the only things their products have in common with their more durable cousins is the higher price.  To be certain, only buy rugged computers that have been independently certified to MIL-STD 810, the military standard for environmental ruggedness.

4) Should you buy a laptop or tablet? Tablets are more mobile (smaller form factor), have quicker boot-up times, and all the cool kids use them. Laptops have a keyboard (good for quick onsite reports), more powerful processors, and your Dad uses one. However, the single most important difference is the size of the screens. When scoping out a minute detail on a blueprint, or trying to get an overall sense of a project, nothing beats a big screen.  Sometimes your Dad is right.

One laptop that has been popular with AMREL’s construction clients is the ROCKY RF10.  Its 17-inch display is the largest on the rugged laptop market.  For folks who want a laptop with a minimal footprint there is the ROCKY RS11, which is the thinnest, lightest rugged laptop in the world.

However, if you do decide to get a rugged tablet, you can get one that easily runs full Windows.  Both the 8.4” ROCKY DR10 and 12” ROCKY DK10 tablets have speedy i7 processors. If you are ambivalent, you can get a ROCKY DT10 tablet, which has a built-in keyboard, or even a convertible, such as the U12CI.

5) Batteries.  Everyone runs low on battery power. Find out if your rugged computer has an option for a second battery.

There are other issues, such as customization and End of Life, but if you can answer the 5 above questions, you’re ready to get started.

For more information, please contact Javier Camarillo, AMREL’s Senior Application Engineer at (800) 882-6735 or

Remote-controlled .50 cal M2 [VIDEO]

Check out this video of a remote-controlled .50 caliber M2.  About 35 seconds in, you will notice the dual-screen mobile weapons control station.  Nicknamed “the DK Flipper,”  this fully rugged tablet has a separate display for power and video input. This customized DK10 tablet acts as a force multiplier by enabling a single person to control several Remotely Operated Weapon Stations (ROWS). Learn more at AMREL’s tablet customization page.

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Do you need a rugged computer?

Do you need a rugged computer


When AMREL did its annual review, we were surprised by one finding: there was a marked uptick in the number of people buying rugged computers for personal use. While there has always a few folks who bought rugged platforms for themselves, our traditional customer base has been overwhelmingly enterprise oriented.

Why this sudden interest in rugged computers by consumers? Should you be considering a rugged computer for yourself or your organization?

Read more

The New ROCKY DR10 8.4” & ROCKY DK10 12.1” tablets are here!

rightside_dr10-dk10The new ROCKY DR10 8.4” and ROCKY DK10 12.1” tablets are now available for purchase. Faster, brighter, and tougher, these represent major upgrades for AMREL’s rugged tablet platform.

For the new ROCKY DR10 8.4‘’ fully rugged tablet, AMREL has added a:

  • Powerful i7 processor
  • Brighter display
  • Improved memory
  • Longer-lasting battery

Even ROCKY’s legendary ruggedness has been upgraded.  Like many ROCKY products, the DR10 has been independently certified for MIL-STDs 810 & 461(military ruggedness standards), but AMREL has upped its game with an improved IP rating. ROCKY fully rugged tablets have proven their durability on multiple battlefields, earning them a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) of 9.

Read more

New ROCKY DK10 12.1″ Rugged Tablet – For Brightest Day & Darkest Night

dk10201305310000SNEAK PREVIEW   The new DK10 has quality you can see.  We’ve upgraded the standard NITS rating, improved the graphic card, and added a night vision option.  The processor is more powerful and the mobile broadband option offers a greater choice of carriers.  Since we designed the DK10 to require minimal reconfiguring, upgrading your solution will be easy.  To preview the specs, click here

New ROCKY DR10 Tablet- Faster.Brighter.Tougher.

dr10_HDR2-ACOMING SOON! The new ROCKY DR10 8.4-inch fully rugged tablet will be faster, brighter, and tougher. AMREL added a faster processor, brighten the display, improved the memory, and upped the battery power.  We even added to ROCKY’s legendary ruggedness with an improved IP rating.  To preview the specs, click here.