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How to reduce the cost of ‘mobile’ with an effective mobile strategy

(Image credit: Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock)

According to Market Research Future, “the global market for BYOD and Enterprise Mobility is expected to grow from USD 39.04 billion in 2017 to USD 94.41 billion by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.86 per cent during the forecast period.” This forecast indicates the scale of growth and importance of mobility across the globe to organisations.

This raises a subsequent question about whether organisations are equipped to embrace enterprise mobility as part of their digital transformation strategies; and whether they’re creating a fit-for-purpose and cost-effective mobile strategy that makes use of deploying appropriate, business rugged mobile devices across the enterprise?

The engineering, manufacturing, building and construction, wholesale and distribution, as well as the emergency service sectors are all experiencing a plethora of digital transformation projects. If the enterprise mobility aspect of the project is not properly considered, it can become unnecessarily costly.  For instance, when IT teams select mobile devices during enterprise mobility projects, they will often adopt the cheaper consumer devices and bundle it with a ‘tough case’ to create the illusion of a ‘rugged device’. Additionally, another common mistake that is made is to adopt ‘over-specified’ military grade devices. Over time, both these procurement approaches are ineffective, yielding unnecessarily high costs.

Aside from purchasing devices that are not ‘fit-for-purpose’, another common failure is that IT procurement teams make decisions to purchase devices in bulk. The idea behind this is to have a series of back-up devices available to use, as necessary, when devices fail or break. But, in the end, this equates to a lot of wasted purchases and human resource; because your team ends up spending a small fortune on replacing, provisioning and maintaining its fleet of devices. This causes the total cost of ownership to increase significantly over time.

Also, no mobile technology is indestructible. Regardless of whether consumer grade devices or military grade devices are used, all devices have the potential to break. This naturally results in downtime, which stagnates business productivity. When this happens, IT teams have to designate resource towards repairing these broken devices. Depending on the severity of the problem, it might mean de-provisioning the existing device, removing the data and re-provisioning a new device for an employee to use, assuming spare devices are available. Or, it might be the case that a new fleet of devices has to be ordered. In either case, the effect on the business’s productivity and employees (IT and business users) is detrimental.

These problems are common across many organisations and this approach to purchasing mobile devices causes an inflation in the total cost of ownership of enterprise mobility programmes. This begs the question of why businesses would choose to handicap themselves with an inadequate enterprise mobility strategy? Since mobile often forms a crucial part of a digital transformation strategy, why execute and invest poorly in this space? So, what should organisations consider when creating their enterprise mobility strategies.

Point 1: What apps does the business and its end users need?

Examine which applications employees need in order to do their work. Do the desktop applications that they use regularly offer a mobile alternative too? Has this user experience been tested? Does it work? Regular internal trials should also be carried out to test the applications’ impact on productivity. From a wider strategic standpoint, is the software actually helping deliver the desired business outcomes?

The next step is to review what type of device will be chosen to run these software applications.  As outlined, ‘cheaper devices’ prove to be less cost effective in the long run due to the ‘false economies of scale’ they present in terms of inflated device costs and operational running costs for the business.

Therefore, in cases where enterprise mobility plays a critical role in an overall digital transformation strategy, or key parts of a crucial business process, organisations should really ensure that they select the most appropriate device to support improvements within a business process. It’s no good selecting a device that is not fit for purpose and which regularly breaks when there are better business rugged options available on the market.

Point 2: Optimise business processes with fit-for-purpose devices

In the process of selecting a device, organisations must make a few assessments, including: what devices the applications will run on – does it actually work well; and the working environment that the employee will use the device in?

As an example, certain employees within a construction firm might need to use a tablet device and bespoke applications on a construction site; so they’d need a device that is stronger than an iPad, but not military grade; the screen needs to be waterproof and tough enough to withstand scratches; and employees need to be able to view site plans on these devices.

So, aside from meeting the physical requirements – does the team’s software run well on this device? Is the business process and software application aligned with business requirements? Is the process, software and device making life easier for employees? Is it enabling the business to run more efficiently? Establishing this fit is critical.

Point 3: Are the devices selected ‘business-rugged’?

This leads me to my natural next point. Devices that are considered “business-rugged” are simply devices that are capable, or rugged enough, to operate within certain appropriate, heard wearing environments. When working with your device provider, it is important to select the most suitable pair of business rugged devices for the job at hand, including a thorough assessment of all possible physical scenarios in which the device will be used.

For instance, as an example, are engineers working on a factory floor, or is a warehouse and logistics team using barcode scanners on the road? How demanding are the physical environments that the device will be subject to? Will these devices make contact with mud, dust or certain chemicals? A detailed evaluation of your working environment should be undertaken to ensure the most suitable device is selected for your workforce’s needs.

Point 4: Are your suppliers actually easy to work with?

Another key consideration to factor into you device decision making process is about whether your supplier is genuinely easy to work with and offers excellent support, device repair and replacement procedures. These days, this is important for IT teams to be able to easily seek human assistance when a problem arises.

You will not undervalue the impact a strong support team has on your business until productivity is halted. So quiz your supplier about this sort of service. Ask to speak to their clients if you need to, but make sure that you feel comfortable that if there is ever a problem, that it can be resolved without an impact to your organisation’s productivity.

Point 5: Do you have a device downtime strategy

Tied to the previous point is the idea of developing a device downtime strategy. As previously explained, no device is perfect and there will always be moments when mobile devices break or the software stops working, for whatever reason. So aside from the reassurance that you have from your device supplier, what does the rest of your strategy look like? How are you going to keep your productivity up in the event that a fleet of devices all happen to break at the same time? We encourage you to work with your supplier team about the optimal approach to combat this scenario. Prepare for it. Test it. You don’t want to get caught in a situation that could have easily been prevented or planned for.


There is a more to developing a mobile strategy than just downloading a few apps and buying or using whatever devices are lying around. Sure, you can get the software and mobile device management side of it right, but ‘mobility’ offers far more strategic benefits to the business when properly planned and accounted for. So, develop your plan and set your team up with a mobile application and device strategy that is fit-for-purpose.

James Summers, founder and CEO, Conker (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock

James Summers is the founder and CEO of Conker, a British producer of business rugged tablet, screen and mobile systems, that provides assured and tailored services for successful digital transformation.