Mobile Devices Raise IT Labor Costs - InformationWeek

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7/16/2012
10:48 AM
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Mobile Devices Raise IT Labor Costs

Think BYOD smart phones should lower IT costs? Think again. IT labor costs per user for managing mobile devices are expected to rise from $229 in 2011 to $339 in 2013, according to survey.

An independent study on mobile device management (MDM) finds that although smart phone penetration continues to rise in the workplace, so too does the annual IT labor cost. The study, by Osterman Research, found that IT labor costs per user related to managing mobile devices are on an upward path, from $229 in in 2011 to $294 in 2012, with a projected increase to $339 in 2013.

Smart phone penetration in mid-sized and large organizations in North America will reach 50% by 2013, said Scott Gode, VP of product management and marketing, at unified communications provider Azaleos, which sponsored the survey.

Forty percent of IT respondents using MDM platforms use Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), according to the survey. "Obviously that platform doesn't have legs to grow... so [organizations will] have to migrate to some other platforms, so there will be costs associated with the new platforms and new hardware and associated training costs for IT personnel," said Gode, "as well as potentially new hiring to manage and monitor that new MDM platform."

Among organizations that have not yet deployed an MDM platform, 32% of respondents said they will in 2013, and another 24% plan to in 2014. The main reason cited for deploying MDM was concern over the loss of intellectual property, he said.

Even if organizations standardize on one platform, MDM costs are still expected to rise, due to the increased functionality mobile operating systems bring, he said, and the associated policies IT needs to create in order to manage the device. But one-quarter of organizations noted that they have not had a sufficient number of smartphones in use at work to justify the effort involved in deploying an MDM solution, according to the study. Another 21% indicated that MDM solutions have been too expensive to deploy, and an equal number said there is not enough value in MDM platforms to justify the cost of deploying them, the study found.

The biggest MDM challenges, respondents said, are the setup and deployment of mobile devices and training end users on how they are configured, as well as troubleshooting the devices. Tasks associated with security--such as remotely wiping devices that are lost and stolen, adding and removing employees from the system, and making sure the devices weren't jail broken--also were cited as major challenges.

There appears to be a trend toward choosing a cloud-based MDM product, Gode said. The top three reasons cited were ease of administration and maintenance (69%); predictable/reduced costs (39%) and not wanting to use internal IT staff resources (21%). "The new MDM vendors have created their products in such a way that there is no feature drop-off if you choose cloud [versus] on premise," he said.

The study, conducted in February, was comprised of 117 companies with an average of 7,000 employees using 5,000 or more smartphones.

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