More and more companies are choosing to increase the efficiency of their field operations by deploying mobile technology throughout their workforce. However, as these companies rush to embrace the business benefits mobile technology has to offer, many are selecting the wrong device for their needs, and as a result, are failing to realise these benefits and see a return on their mobility investment.
This blog takes a brief look at the hidden costs associated with consumer-grade mobile devices and the impact this could have on your business.
When deciding on the appropriate device to deploy amongst a field team, businesses are increasingly opting for a consumer device instead of those specifically designed for the enterprise. This is often down to the up-front costs; consumer-grade devices initially appear to offer the most value for money, with the device itself being considerably cheaper. However, companies are not considering the unforeseen complexities and hidden costs that can be associated with choosing a device that is not designed for enterprise usage when first weighing up the most cost effective solution.
Consumer devices tend to be a one-size-fits-all solution giving you features you simply don’t need and forcing you to purchase additional components to enable them to work within your IT infrastructure. A good example of this would be single sign-on user functionality linking to ERP platforms which is more readily enabled and secure with enterprise devices. Requirements such as bar code scanning, taking payments or surviving a drop without damage can incur considerable costs if you need to augment consumer-grade technology to meet even just one of them. Let’s also not forget the cost of down time whist repair or replacement takes place.
Once you’ve invested further in tailoring your device to meet your requirements, you then have the high churn rate of consumer-grade technology to contend with. On average most consumer devices are obsolete within 18 months. Can your company afford to redeploy a new device amongst your entire field workforce at this rate, not forgetting to factor in your additional costs to tailor your device? And that isn’t the only problem. If a device breaks beyond repair, the likelihood is the latest version of that device has different dimensions or connectors, making all your accessories obsolete. Then there’s the constant operating system updates; what happens if the new one is incompatible with one of your critical line-of-business applications? Eventually you will be forced to manage a mixed fleet of devices and software, complicating your IT support and incurring additional costs.
Even if your device breaks but is repairable, the consumer market culture is very much one of replacement over repair. Your mobile technology provider may make the repair process complicated and lengthy, or may not even provide a comprehensive coverage option. Ultimately, this leads to the same issues we discussed above where your field workforce are using a range of different devices, all with different operating systems and accessories.
The end result? Despite the lower initial acquisition cost, consumer-grade technology can result in a significantly higher total cost of ownership once you have calculated the further costs incurred by investment in additional accessories and peripherals, rapid obsolescence and potential downtime. In fact, experts agree that consumer smartphones increase Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by up to 50% compared to ruggedized devices. Very quickly it becomes clear that an initial investment in an enterprise-grade, tailored mobile device would not only have been the most cost-effective solution, but also would have delivered far more benefits and added long-lasting value to your organisation and bottom line.
Investing in mobile technology for your field workforce is not enough to guarantee improved productivity, efficiency and customer service. Companies need to select the right device for their business; only then will those benefits deliver a return on investment. Opting for purpose-built mobile technology will enable you to exercise greater control over the features you want and engineer your device for your company’s specific requirements.
To discover more about the power of purpose-built, enterprise-grade mobile devices, look out for the second part of our two-part blog series on the hidden costs of consumer-grade devices.
Alternatively, you can download our full eBook ‘The Hidden Costs of Consumer-Grade Technology’ by clicking here.
 ZDnet, “What is the Ultimate Ruggedized Mobile Device?” April 2011.
 Krebs, David. “Mobile Device TCO Models for Lone of Business Solutions” Volume 1 Track 7. Enterprise Mobility Mobile Device TCO. March 2013. VDC research. For a customized report on the TCO and ROI of consumer smartphones, contact Zebra Technologies.