Unless you’re living under a rock, you know tablets and smartphones are barging their way into enterprises of all sizes and types, whether supplied by IT departments or by employees themselves. And powerful (and inexpensive) as they’ve become in the last five years or so, they’ve begun to replace desktop and laptop computers in many applications.
So far, so good – cheaper device, go-anywhere mobility, and power to spare. What’s not to like? Well, it’s hard to argue against the mobility and utility of tablets and smartphones, but the cost? That can be a lot higher than it looks on paper.
A Tale of Tablet TCO
The total cost of smartphones and tablets, like that of any class of technology, is more than the sum of the hardware and software outlays. There’s management to consider, for one thing, and that means security, data protection, virus combat, and all the rest. For legacy devices (it feels a little funny calling them that, but that’s what they’re becoming, at least for some applications), the infrastructure’s in place and evolved to a pretty high level. High enough that the TCO continually trends downward.
But smartphones and tablets don’t have this management infrastructure supporting them. Rather than the tried-and-true, managing these devices is more a matter of trial-and-error. If it’s even a consideration at all: not every business has cottoned to the fact that mobile devices have the potential to cost them more than their diminutive size would indicate.
Regardless of whether the tablets and smartphones floating around your organization are company- or employee-supplied, it’s important to get a handle on managing them now, while it’s still relatively early in the game. The good news is that many of the management practices you’ve already developed apply to this new class of devices. The bad news is that a new class of devices brings new risks – to data, profits, productivity, and more.
So, don’t ignore these devices. Don’t even treat them in the same way you would, say, a desktop computer. If anything, make managing smartphones and tablets a priority. Otherwise, you’re apt to pay a lot more for them than you expected.