How to Use Smart Phones to Cut IT Total Cost of Ownership

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 applications

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 protected.

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.