Hold the phone--or at least keep track of it. That's the advice analyst firm Gartner is giving to companies looking to cut costs. By tracking and tagging PDAs and cell phones, Gartner estimates that companies with more than 5,000 employees could save $300,000 to $500,000 annually.
Not tracking the devices means that when one is lost to theft or absent-mindedness, it can cost much more than the relatively low hardware replacement cost--or even the cost of "free" calls made on a lost or stolen phone. The greater cost, says Gartner's Jack Heine, comes from the compromise of proprietary data that may be on PDAs and mobile phones. Gartner estimates that this year alone, more than 250,000 cell phones and handheld devices will be left behind at major U.S. airports, and only 25% to 30% will ever find their way back to the owners.
Then there's the "I lost the job, but I'm keeping the hardware" scenario, which is especially favored by employees who work remotely but don't return company equipment when they leave. In either case, Gartner says the cost is at least $2,500 per unit for each unrecovered PDA or cell phone.
If the devices are tagged and tracked, Gartner says, companies would be better able to follow up with employees who leave the job, as well as assist those Good Samaritans who try in vain to track down the owners of cell phones found at airports and in the back of taxicabs.