IT departments can reap the benefits of a lower total cost of ownership for their mobile workforce by replacing their field and remote staff's laptops with mobile smart phones. Knowledge Center contributor William Anderson explains the benefits of moving field and remote staff over to smart phones, and offers nine best practices for IT professionals to follow when doing so.
Most businesses today have field and
remote staff who use laptops, cell phones and other mobile devices. The number
of employees doing so is escalating dramatically. Enterprises will see a major
increase in usage by year's end, while small and midsize businesses will see a
significant increase as well. This means that when centralized policies,
management or administration around mobility don't exist, organizations' costs
can quickly get out of control.
Adding a mobile tier to your IT infrastructure might first be perceived
as adding complexity or cost. But consolidating this under your IT umbrella is
a must-do with today's rapidly advancing mobile-friendly work force. Moreover,
unifying your mobile IT strategy will help you reduce costs in the long run,
improve security measures, and provide field and remote staff with today's indispensable
mobile tools that can help them be more successful.
In fact, with more advances in mobile device hardware and business
applications (such as mobile CRM and mobile
business intelligence), as well as increasing network speeds and data
capacity, many organizations are replacing their laptops with mobile smartphones.
As a result, they're reaping the benefits of a lower TCO
(total cost of ownership). Here are three reasons why:
Reason No. 1: Handheld convenience at the speed of business
Laptops can be cumbersome and have limitations with wireless accessibility,
even with the availability of rapidly expanding Wi-Fi networks. Laptops are
also exponentially more expensive, have more complex IT troubleshooting issues and
are often slower than smartphones.
Unlike laptops, mobile smartphones are ready to use anywhere at any time.
And smartphones are always with employees in their pocket or in their
bag, empowering them to do business outside the office and
during unconventional hours. In addition, mobile devices continue
to have widespread adoption because usability is designed for typical
business people who enjoy their simple, one-click access to information.
Reason No. 2: Lower maintenance costs and more mobile-specific
Besides having a leg up in convenience for business users, mobile devices
require significantly less maintenance for IT departments than laptops. For
example, operating maintenance costs for laptops can skyrocket due to virus
threats, regular required updates or reoccurring crashes. Also, more users tend
to download and install their own applications onto their laptops, which cause
security threats across the corporate network.
On the other hand, smartphones cost less, crash less often and require fewer
updates. Mobile-specific business applications (such as mobile CRM
and location-based applications) often come with lower license costs and easier
IT maintenance. Overall, smartphones are less onerous and less costly for IT
staffs to manage and maintain than laptops.
Reason No. 3: Higher on-the-go security and productivity
Many on-the-go professionals spend a good chunk of their time in airports
and hotels, which can lead to lost or stolen laptops or mobile devices. Because
laptops usually carry more information than a mobile device-often months' or
years' worth of private company data-losing one can become a major corporate
security breach. However, if an employee loses a smartphone, IT administrators
can remotely wipe the device's data, keeping sensitive company information
Also, keep in mind that when an IT department is constantly dealing with
multiple companywide laptop issues (such as those involving the hard drive,
network plug or card, screen, or software), it is more difficult for them to
proactively and strategically implement new technologies. Plus, each time the
IT staff needs to install updates on corporate laptops, the mobile employees
are removed from the field, thus cutting into potential revenue generation.
Moving to mobile devices allows IT to automatically push out updates wirelessly
to corporate smartphones, keeping the mobile staff in the field.