In our previous blog, we talked with Panasonic’s Michelle Chapin, Senior Director of Government Acquisition, Capture & Bids about current trends she is observing this federal buying season as well as the lingering effects of the sequestration on government spending. In this blog, we speak with Michelle to take a closer look at specific mobile device trends.
Q: Are you seeing a bigger shift from laptops to tablets during this year’s buying season?
A: As we see a new generation of folks entering into DoD, people want lighter, smaller devices with better battery life. Some are coming from the private industry and now entering the government and for some it’s just a generational change. These new minds have grown up in a different environment and different culture with the internet and connectivity more prevalent in their day-to-day lives. They are very interested in new device formats and form factors, particularly how they can further develop tablets – both Windows and Android based. Battery life is also becoming increasingly important. In terms of what devices are used where, agencies are looking to get a Toughbook or Toughpad for that very reason. However, office-based employees that are overseeing a project within that agency may not need a fully rugged device, will get whatever the budget can afford. But it’s important for agencies to consider who will be using the device and what they need their devices to do. And how important is maximum uptime for that mobile user? Does the user need to be able to read outdoors and in sunlight? Is the device capable of withstanding the extreme conditions and temperatures that may occur on the flight deck, on the battlefield or even sitting on the seat of a car? People want something that lasts but also has the latest bells and whistles. Some government agencies are open to Android but much of their software is written on Windows so compatibility and integration with the applications they use every day is an important consideration. Bottom line, how well do you work when your mobile device doesn’t? Wherever you are.
Q: Has there been an increased interest in hybrid devices?
A: Hybrid devices are relatively new but our government customers love this category of devices because they offer the best of both worlds in that they are rugged and offer a lot of flexibility for users. Data entry is still very important and so many folks still want a traditional keyboard. For example, the Panasonic Toughpad 4k has an on screen keyboard but it’s not easy to use and not big enough for some customers. Light, rugged, detachable, hot swappable battery are all important features that our customers have asked us to build for them. Our customers come to us to create new products based on their needs, and we were happy to build these new mobile devices that we can offer to them today.
Q: What device features are most important to federal agencies?
A: Security is a top priority and mobile computing features like fingerprint or SmartCard readers are pretty much a standard across many agencies. Smart cards lock down computer networks and provide additional protections from data breaches, providing identification and authentication of users accessing the network. As an example, the DoD uses the Common Access Card (CAC) which acts as the standard identification for military personnel, DoD/government employees and contractors. All of the agencies we work with place a very strong emphasis on ensuring their mobile computing devices meet the latest and most stringent security requirements but they vary by agency and are constantly evolving. Beyond things like the Opal standard for hardware-based disk encryption or NIST certifications and FIPS compliance, there is also a growing emphasis on potential cyber-security threats. In February, the White House issued its Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan, calling for advances in science and engineering to enhance national security. Panasonic continues to lead the way in ensuring our mobile computing devices meet and/or exceed the latest security requirements based on our customers’ unique needs. We build our Toughbooks based on our customers’ needs and we have been doing so to support Federal agencies for over 20 years. With many family members in government and deployed, it is also a personal passion and effort from me to ensure that we have the best technology and offer the latest in secure mobile devices.
For information about Panasonic’s rugged Toughbook and Toughpad devices, visit the Panasonic website.