Will Smartphones Replace Enterprise Grade Devices as Barcode Scanners?

Companies are always looking for the most cost-effective solution when it comes technology- even for something as simple as scanning barcodes. One of the most recent trends is using smartphones instead of enterprise-grade devices as barcode scanners. Will this trend last? Here is a look at why smartphones may be the future of barcode scanners and a few reasons why enterprise solutions may still be the best choice.

Why Smartphones May Replace Enterprise Grade Devices

Cost – In a cost-based analysis between the two options, smartphones appeared to be cheaper. Unfortunately, many companies fail to take into account all of the different costs that come with the purchase of a smartphone. In addition to buying the tools necessary for barcode scanning, you would also need to account for phone chargers and other accessories, implementation of the new phones, and the cost to train employees. It still may not cost quite as much as the total cost (initial price, implementation, and training) for an enterprise grade device – but it comes very close.

Capable of Performing Multiple Tasks– Barcode scanning is just one way that an employee can use a smartphone for work. They would also be able to install apps for work – such as task management boards. If you consider that you would only have to purchase one smartphone per employee and then can implement whatever apps are necessary, it is easy to see the appeal of a phone over enterprise grade solutions.

Most Employees Have Smartphones– Another advantage of using smartphones is that most employees come equipped with one! While this means you will not have to do a company-wide purchase of phones to be used as barcode scanners and other devices, you should not get too excited just yet. Many employees probably don’t have the storage space to download apps for work on their phone and using their personal phone at work can lead to a decrease in productivity.

Meeting Company Needs– Some companies do not want enterprise solutions for barcode scanning because they only need to scan barcodes occasionally. In these situations, using cell phones for barcode scanners may be a good idea. This is especially true if you have designated employees that are more likely to scan barcodes than others. If you are looking to cut costs in this way, then choosing a smartphone barcode scanner over an enterprise-grade solution may be a good idea.

[Read also: How Mobile Phones Have Changed Our Lives]

Why Enterprise Solutions May Still be Better

Productivity– One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when performing a cost-based analysis is the fall in productivity that they will likely see if they choose smartphones over enterprise solutions. How many employees do you have that will be able to ignore their Facebook notifications when they pull out their phone to use the barcode scanning app? When you allow cell phone usage at work, you leave employees vulnerable to the temptation that they may not be able to break.

Functionality- The barcode scanners designed to work with a smartphone rely on the use of the phone’s camera. This means that employees must have a steady hand. Additionally, barcode scanners on smartphones may not work as well as enterprise solutions when it comes scratched or damaged barcodes. Employees may end up typing in the code, which decreases productivity and leaves entries subject to human error.

Ultimately, the choice in what to use comes down to business needs. The same is true for your choice of barcodes: a vendor is often the best option for finding barcodes. One such vendor that I highly recommend turning to is speedybarcodes.com.

The writer of this article, Lautaro Martinez, is a freelance writer who focuses on topics related to businesses and business technology. He often discusses the utility of a general purpose device (like smartphones) vs. purpose-built devices. If you wish to learn more about Lautaro you can look at his profile on Google+.