Tablets Hit the BYOD Sweet Spot: Gartner

Enterprises can get more bang for their buck if they welcome employee-owned tablets, but they should also expect their IT infrastructure costs to rise.

Organizations that are considering adding tablets into their user IT mix may be better off letting users bring their own, according to IT research firm Gartner.

After some number crunching, Federica Troni, a Gartner research director, said that the math adds up for tablet "bring your own device" (BYOD) programs. "IT leaders can spend half a million dollars to buy and support 1,000 enterprise-owned tablets, while they can support 2,745 user-owned tablets with that same budget," she said in a statement.

Enterprises have a good reason to shift the cost of owning a tablet to users. "Without a stipend, direct costs of user-owned tablets are 64 percent lower," added Troni. Organizations with several users that are clamoring for tablets, "offering a BYOD option is the best alternative to limit cost and broaden access," she concluded.

The same situation generally doesn't play out for smartphones in the workplace.

Gartner observed that supporting corporate- and employee-owned smartphones generally cost an organization the same. Smartphone BYOD initiatives "will only deliver savings when the organization is in a position to pay partial, or do not reimburse or subsidize for voice and data plans," said the analyst group.

As with most IT initiatives, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Proper planning and careful consideration are the keys to successful BYOD programs, suggested Troni.

"A balanced mix of enterprise-owned and user-owned devices with different levels of stipends will be the most effective way of capitalizing the benefits of BYOD programs, both in terms of cost reduction and in terms of level of access to mobile technology," she said.

Businesses that jump on the BYOD bandwagon also often face an increase in infrastructure investments, Gartner found.

A survey conducted by the firm during the first quarter of 2014 revealed that organizations increased their spending in mobile device management (87 percent), infrastructure expansion (84 percent) and file share and sync technologies (80 percent) as a consequence of supporting their BYOD environments. Gartner also found that IT departments are turning to desktop virtualization and isolation solutions as they seek to secure and manage mobile access to their corporate applications.

Ninety percent of organizations will support at least some aspect of BYOD by 2017, Gartner predicts. A year later, "there will be twice as many employee-owned devices used for work than enterprise-owned devices," said the firm.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: Gartner, tablets, enterprise mobile, BYOD

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