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Thursday, 17 September 2009 10:16

Managing enterprise smart phones can cost $4,500 a head: Gartner

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While workers are increasingly clamouring to be allowed to utilise whatever smart phone they like in corporate environments, the cost of supporting such free-for-all users can rise above $4,500 per year, research firm Gartner has warned.


Speaking at the Gartner Security Summit in Sydney this week, research director for enterprise mobility Robin Simpson said that many corporations were now choosing to adopt what Gartner describes as a "managed diversity" strategy, allowing some senior staff to choose whatever mobile device they liked rather than being restricted to a device approved by the IT department.

The most extreme version of this is what Simpson described as a "concierge" strategy: letting staff use whatever they like, provided that the company is willing to foot the bill. That approach is often taken with C-level executives.

However, footing the bill isn't cheap. Fully supporting a given phone platform, with no restrictions on what device can be chosen or what applications it runs, can cost more than $4,500 per user a year, Simpson said -- a figure that's higher than for a typical PC.

Companies can offer some degree of choice while reducing costs by adopting either a "platform" or "application" approach. The former restricts the choice of devices, but allows a fairly broad range of applications, and costs around $2,900 a year to support, Simpson said.

The application approach allows a wide range of devices, but only supports a small number of applications (typically those found on most devices, such as email or Internet access). That's the cheapest option -- around $2,300 a year to support -- but also offers the least flexibility and business benefit.

While those costs would vary between individual organisations, the general principle of unrestricted choice being more expensive remained solid, Simpson said. "The ideal device to support would fit into the platform category," he said.

In practice, many organisations can't take such a freewheeling approach anyway. In government departments and other secrecy-sensitive sectors such as finance, a lack of encryption support or ability to remotely blank devices can render them unsuitable choices.

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