Device Accountability vs. Device Tracking – How They Differ

Rugged devices enable employees to streamline daily tasks and deliver excellent customer service in more efficient ways than ever before. As a result, companies are making wise investments in rugged devices and mobile strategies.

But what happens when those investments disappear? Well, when they disappear for good, we call that device loss. If they happen to reappear, we call that luck…unless you have good tools in place to mitigate the loss. We won’t go in-depth about how to mitigate device loss in this article, but instead, I’d like to set a baseline for two key concepts: Device Accountability and Device Tracking, which together are part of what we will call Device Visibility.

Device Accountability and Device Tracking are often used interchangeably, and understandably so. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a meeting where I was talking to some clients about Device Accountability and how our EMS product can help mitigate their device loss. During the Q&A session after my presentation, I was asked about the various features of how our product could help “track” their devices. 

It was in that moment when I realized that technology and solutions around understanding the whereabouts of rugged devices in enterprises is still emerging, and so are the concepts behind them. That said, let’s dive into the differences between Device Accountability and Device Tracking.

Device Accountability

Think of accountability as an auditable trail of who, what, when, and where the device has been. The “accountability” helps to reinforce associate behavior in how they handle and maintain the devices. Here are some example questions that may be raised during an audit trail of Device of Accountability:

  • Who had it?
  • When did they have it?
  • How long did they have it?
  • Was it returned to its charger/cradle?
  • Where was it last seen (AP, SSID, cell tower)?

Device Tracking

Tracking is pretty much exactly how it sounds. “Tracking” devices focuses on seeing a device’s movements or history of movements through some form of visual representation or through actions that cause the device’s location to be known. Here are some ways tracking devices occurs:

  • Ping the device
  • See the device on a map (from a terminal or another rugged device)
  • Automatic defensive measures on the device itself
    • Device plays audible tones set to configured thresholds and events
    • Device broadcasts an alert or notification set to configured thresholds

Now that you’re well-versed on the differences between the concepts of Device Accountability and Device Tracking, check out my next post on how to mitigate device loss.