Chapter 2: What is a dedicated device?
According to Google’s Android Developer site, the short definition of a dedicated device is “a company-owned device that fulfills a single use case.” Point of sale systems, digital signage, self-ordering kiosks, handheld inventory scanners, restaurant tabletop ordering systems, self-check-in kiosks, cashier-less checkout systems, and airport ticket printing kiosks are all examples of dedicated devices — but this list is by no means complete.
Since dedicated devices have a very different use case than other enterprise devices like BYOD (bring your own device) or COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) situations, they also require a very specific type of management.
Popular examples and core characteristics of dedicated devices
You probably use some kind of dedicated device at least fairly regularly. ATMs — especially more modern models — are great examples of dedicated devices. Self-checkout machines at grocery and other brick and mortar stores are another prolific example in retail environments.
We can sum up the core characteristics of a dedicated device in four points:
- They serve a specific, single purpose.
- They run a single app or very tightly controlled selection of applications or operate exclusively in kiosk mode
- They’re owned by an organization or enterprise (not an individual user)
- They’re always-on and mission critical, meaning they’re relied on for essential business functions
Why Android is (frequently) the best choice for dedicated devices
Since many dedicated devices are purpose-built, you might think they require a proprietary or hyper-specific operating system to do the job. While traditional desktop operating systems like Windows weren’t designed for the always-updating, always-connected role that many organizations now demand, a versatile and customizable mobile operating system can offer the granular control generally required to provide the best experience to customers and end users.
But that’s where Android (and the Android Open Source Project, AOSP) differs. It’s flexible, adapting to nearly any need and use case. You can, for example, control system updates to integrate new features and improve security. Similarly, because Android is open source and exceptionally well supported, many devices can be maintained for a much longer period, increasing lifespan and reducing costs. Some versions of Android can even run on x86 hardware, so older machines that have reached the end of their Windows update lifespan no longer need to be discarded in the name of security or new features.
But devices are only half the story
Since dedicated devices are mission critical, you need a way to remotely troubleshoot, update, and otherwise interact with these devices. That’s why most modern dedicated systems need a cloud backend and interface. For example, PoS (Point of Sale) systems could have a back end to configure the management of store-specific activity like user credentials, real-time transaction monitoring, and more. Logistics devices for tracking products might have a backend that manages warehouse inventory.
This information is not generally stored directly on the device, however. It’s communicated back to an online repository that can be read and written from various sources across an entire fleet of devices. For example, a cloud-connected PoS could synchronize all transactions across devices in a store so management can view them in a single location.
This same kind of connectivity applies to dedicated device management. You need a way to provision devices, push updates, enforce policies (and policy changes), and manage drift — all remotely. This is precisely why Esper exists. Whether you need an agile, upgradable point of sale system, a network of self-ordering restaurant kiosks, portable logistics devices to manage inventory, or nearly anything in between, we can help. Whatever your use case may be, Esper can help guide and enhance your dedicated device strategy with our rich set of APIs, SDKs, custom operating system, and other tools.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. We can help you evaluate your scenario and decide what type of management solution will be best for you. No gimmicks, no sales. It’s a downloadable asset that offers a self-assessment and offers suggestions on what may work best for you.