Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Report: Ditch the Ruggedized Mobile Devices and Help Drive Down Smartphone Costs


They say you should use the “right tool for the job.” But sometimes there’s more to choosing the right tool than meets the eye. Do you need a custom-built perfect tool all the time? Or could a standard generic tool suffice? Is that ‘perfect tool’ really worth the extra cost?

These kinds of questions are leading field service organizations to re-evaluate their mobile tool set. IT departments, looking for ways to standardize technology platforms and reduce mobile infrastructure costs, are exploring the use of BlackBerry® devices in non-traditional environments – like field service operations, where BlackBerry devices often offer a surprisingly close fit at a significantly lower price point. With this premise in mind, industry analyst research firm ABI recently published a detailed whitepaper (commissioned by Research In Motion®) examining the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of traditional ruggedized devices versus BlackBerry handhelds.

Historically, BlackBerry smartphones have been thought of as strictly for white-collar workers, while ruggedized devices were strictly the domain of hard hats and steel-toed boots. However, both stereotypes are incorrect, and there’s a lot of grey overlap.

Field force workers, despite the rough-and-tumble stereotype, actually include diverse roles, including potato-chip delivery drivers, photocopier repair technicians, and restaurant inspectors. Clearly not all of these need fully ruggedized systems. Hence, organizations, in an effort to cut costs and standardize, are outfitting field staff with lower-cost, industry standard smartphones instead.

The ABI report looks at the factors that organizations considered in switching their field service teams from ruggedized mobile devices to smartphones – specifically BlackBerry smartphones. It analyzes the total cost and breakdown in various scenarios as shown below.

Source: ABI Research 2011: Comparing the TCO of BlackBerry Smartphones and Ruggedized Handhelds for Field Services Mobility

In addition to the quantitative measures, qualitative factors like ease of acquisition, upgrade management, application variety, development options, data security, and employee preference sweeten the pot.

All told, according to the study, the total costs and performance gains in switching from ruggedized devices to BlackBerry handhelds resulted in a five-year average TCO savings of up to 30%! Want to see where exactly the savings came from and how your organization might explore a similar evaluation? Click here to have a look at the report!

I’m sure your fellow IT leaders would love to hear about your experience in dealing with field service line of business managers. Have you integrated your field service teams’ requirements into your overall mobile strategy, or are you focused strictly on mobile execs? How do tablets like the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet factor into this discussion? What special considerations or accommodations were required?

About Roger B.

Joining Research In Motion® (RIM) in 2001, Roger has worked in BlackBerry® Alliance Marketing, vertical segment marketing and product marketing. By leveraging this diverse background, for the past few years Roger has been involved with market research, analyst relations, and other research initiatives. A graduate of the Ivey Business School and MIT’s Executive program in Strategy & Innovation, Roger has been involved in technology marketing for the past 15 years working in Asia, Europe, and North America. Passionate about the impact technology has on people and processes, he brings this vast array of experiences together as a lead contributor to the “BlackBerry For Business” social media presence.

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