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Even if an IT department manages to successfully develop a robust mobility program, find the right device and application management products, deploy mobile productivity applications, control data leakage, and upgrade the networking infrastructure to support an influx of new devices, there's still the problem of cost.
Enterprise mobility costs are one facet that often goes overlooked during the mobile planning stages, said industry watchers. Companies can manually manage those expenses themselves, but there are also plenty of vendors willing to help bring down and control the cost of mobile initiatives, such as Amtel, Avema Corp. and Tangoe Inc.
Take control of enterprise mobility
Part 1: Getting the most out of your enterprise mobility program
Part 2: Deciphering the alphabet soup of mobile device security products
Part 3: Enterprise mobility and BYOD cost challenges plague organizations
IT pros have a less rosy assessment. BYOD costs add up and won't save your organization money, said Damian Broccoli, an infrastructure engineer at Terex Corp., a large equipment manufacturer based in Dallas. With BYOD, the company would still be reimbursing employees' mobile costs, along with supporting those devices. Going with corporate-issued devices provides an organization more control to manage support, negotiate group rate plans and the like.
One nut Terex still hasn't cracked is the problem of international employees using mobile phones when travelling.
"We have employees come back with an $8,000 bill from just a week of business," Broccoli said. With locations across the globe, the company has tried negotiating shared pools of minutes and data from carriers and encouraged business travelers to use VoIP instead of cellular minutes. But nothing has helped curb the cost of roaming devices.
"We just honestly don't know what to do about it," he said. Faced with budgets and cost overruns, "it's one of those things that you can't learn to live with."
International roaming is but one example of unexpected enterprise mobility cost overruns, said Benjamin Robbins, an enterprise mobility consultant at Palador Inc., a firm based in Seattle, Wash. It's very easy for organizations to find themselves grappling with cost issues resulting from improper planning of the numerous business use cases for mobile. Just understanding that employees will be traveling internationally should have set off alarms, he added.
Despite these unsolved challenges, most enterprise IT teams find themselves firmly embracing and planning for a mobile workforce. The immense benefits of letting employees use the computing devices and applications they want, along with working from anywhere at any time, is too powerful to ignore, said Scott Schemmel, vice president of global IT for PGi, a virtual collaboration solutions vendor headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.
"We haven't gone full-blown into tablets and social media just yet even though we've embraced them," Schemmel said. "I want to provide the tools that our employees want to use and make it easy for them to just get their job done."
This was first published in February 2013