zebra logo

The Visible Value Blog

How should enterprises view the cost of Field Mobility?

Posted by Steve Northcott

Find me on:

April 16, 2015 at 9:26 AM


A growing number of enterprises are looking to reduce costs and raise customer satisfaction levels by investing in mobile devices for their field workers. These devices enable staff to carry out a number of tasks more efficiently - from getting to customers more quickly thanks to better route planning, to more accurate inventory management through improved asset scanning. Yet when it comes to the cost of these devices many enterprises are in the dark as to the best and most cost-effective solution.

This blog summarises our recent research into the costs being considered by enterprises when choosing handheld devices for their mobile field workers. It also gives an insight into the guidance we offer in our full research report on how to achieve a return on your investment.

As the demand for providing field workers with mobile devices is growing, we wanted to understand how enterprises make their purchasing decisions when it comes to choosing mobile devices for the field. We talked to 100 businesses with over 250 employees across the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain and who were focused primarily on service, sales, delivery or inspection in the field.

Anticipating that costs would of course be a major factor, we tailored our questions to focus on how businesses evaluate the costs of handheld devices and whether they believed, with the benefit of hindsight, that they had made the right decision.

Our research revealed some surprising results, particularly with regards to how companies prioritised the longer-term total cost of ownership (TCO) of the device. Only 39% of companies considered TCO over five years, compared with the 59% of companies who focused first on annual operating expenditure. Even more surprising was that when asked how respondents thought they should be viewing costs, the top answer was “over a five-year period”, despite TCO being a secondary consideration in practice.

Immediately we saw a gap between how organisations believe they should be considering costs compared with what they are doing in reality. Yet the true costs of a device cannot be calculated without taking into consideration a longer-term view; it is only at this point that the hidden costs can be included in your calculations. Hidden costs include the costs to repair and replace. They also include lost productivity due to devices failing in the field as well as the costs to manage a fleet of devices.

Ultimately, in order to ensure a chosen mobile device will deliver a return on investment, the costs of all the options available must be considered accurately and this all begins with the TCO. Solutions that appear cheaper in the short term may lack the resilience and functionality required, resulting in further charges down the line.

In our latest guide, we delve further into the results of our research and offer expert advice based on these findings. The goal being to equip you with all knowledge required to make the right decision when choosing a mobile device for your employees working in the field.

If you would like to read the full results of our research, download our Field Mobility Research Guide by clicking here.

Topics: Supply Chain, Mobility, Manufacturing, EMEA, T&L, Field Mobility