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BLOG: Quality pays off: Considering the importance of TCOs in mobile strategies

Satoshi Mizobata | Jan. 17, 2014
While it is true that quality comes at a premium, it is important to also consider the long term, total cost of ownership (TCO).

Mobile technology has progressed to a point where it has become a must-have strategy in the business plans of companies today as their ability to be mobile directly impacts their responsiveness to unexpected market situations. As a result, when procuring mobile hardware for their employees companies face a great deal of pain as not only do they have to factor in the cost of each piece of hardware, they must also procure devices that are actually up to the task.

Quality of hardware
Often, as a means of cost-cutting, many companies source for the cheapest mobile hardware available in the market, even if they are not designed to handle enterprise-level tasks. While it is true that quality comes at a premium, it is important to also consider the long term, total cost of ownership (TCO). Every moment a user spends unable to work due to a hardware failure, their company's TCO increases, as it does when IT spends time on repairs, ordering replacement parts, and even migrating data to a replacement device. Then, the question arises - is it better to buy two low-cost mobile devices - one for active use and one as a backup to guard against failure - or perhaps one single reliable one? Business sense dictates reliability wins every time.

Calculating TCO
This raises the question what are some of the considerations that need to be taken into account when determining the TCO of a device, in order to avoid selecting the wrong type.

To accurately calculate the TCO, businesses must consider all costs related to the deployment of the mobile device in the workforce, both upfront and long term. These include anticipated product life, planned replacement cycles, and the impact of device failure on day-to-day processes. Indirect costs, such as lost productivity hours, must be taken into consideration during the initial selection process to determine the overall value.

One of the most critical elements of TCO calculation is failure rates. As mentioned previously, businesses might choose to deploy devices that are not built for enterprise use into demanding environments in order to cut upfront costs. Because these mobile devices are not designed to withstand typical field conditions, they cost companies thousands of dollars in repairs, additional inventory, and valuable IT staff time lost to providing support for these devices. Failures equate to down time and lost business, negating the value of having a mobile workforce that can make real-time decisions.

Thus, before making a purchase decision, companies should ask vendors for failure rate information that has been verified by a third party to fully understand the risks associated with their purchase decision.

Selecting The Right Features
While doing a thorough TCO is important, it is equally important to select the right features for mobile devices and map them to realistic usage scenarios. Businesses should consider durability, form factor, functionality, and connectivity among others. Having a device with the right capabilities that map to the user's environment will allow mobile workers to access mission-critical data and respond in real time.


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