Small businesses need to be aware of the hidden costs associated with equipping employees with mobile devices, analysts warn, as employers attempt to make their staff more productive.
Andy Rowsell-Jones, a research director at technology research firm Gartner, says businesses that provide gadgets to staff often find they have to upgrade wireless infrastructure in the office.
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According to Rowsell-Jones, they also have to purchase mobile device management software to comply with security policies and insure gadgets against loss or accidents.
They must also fork out for data usage, which can rise sharply when such devices are used overseas.
Gartner estimates it can cost almost $1,300 to connect a mobile device to the corporate network, and organisations that fail to plan properly can be forced to increase the capacity of Wi-Fi networks by up to 300%.
“At a time when budgets are constrained and other priorities are dominating, [businesses] are being forced to do something about mobile,” Rowsell-Jones says.
“It will be interesting to see how they view these devices once they realise they are not free. That’s a time bomb.”
A rising number of organisations have provided their staff with tablets since the launch of the Apple iPad in 2010.
“[Tablets] are used predominantly for private use and that creates a great sense of personal ownership,” Rowsell-Jones says.
“That impacts on budgets because these are devices of desire. The iPad is not sold as technology. It’s a fashion accessory.”
Foad Fadaghi, research director at technology analyst firm Telsyte, estimates tablet sales in Australia will reach more than 1.2 million this year, of which a third will be sold through companies that supply directly to business.
However, he points out that corporate use is even higher than that because some organisations buy from high street retailers.
Fadaghi says it is important for companies to run trials before taking the plunge and making gadgets widely available to staff.
“There are a range of hidden costs but there are also productivity benefits because you can work and collaborate from anywhere,” Fadaghi says.
“Forward-thinking organisations will do some planning before they make the jump.”