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How can organizations calculate the TCO of mobile devices?

There are a variety of factors to evaluate when determining the true cost of mobile devices in an organization. Unpack these factors to find the TCO.

It's more complicated to calculate the total cost of ownership for enterprise devices than just adding up the data plans for each employee.

Whether an organization decides on a BYOD or corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE) program, there are a variety of factors to consider to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a mobile device fleet. Organizations should factor in costs for carrier or stipend charges, hardware -- which may include phones, tablets, laptops and accessories -- enterprise mobility management, IT or security staff to manage the devices, and networks that support mobile devices.

On average, organizations in the U.S. spend $1,840 per employee on mobile devices annually, according to Wandera, a mobile security company based in London. When organizations add extra services such as mobile application management (MAM) and identity and authentication, however, the TCO of mobile devices can exceed $2,000 per employee.

How to calculate TCO of mobile devices for BYOD vs. COPE

To calculate TCO for mobile devices, start by determining the cost of the device itself. The TCO for mobile devices can differ depending on whether the organization decides to adopt a BYOD or COPE option. BYOD allows users to select their own device; COPE plans enable users to select from a few corporate-approved devices, but the company owns those devices.

BYOD organizations can choose to pay for the phone or provide a stipend for either the device or the data plan. A standard stipend for an organization is about $50 to $75 per user, per month. Organizations can also opt to pay for a new device every few years and cover a portion of the monthly data charges.

COPE organizations, on the other hand, must cover the cost of both the data plan and the device. Corporate data plans also cost about $50 to $75 per user, per month, but that cost drops down after two years when the device is paid off. After that, the organization will pay $40 to $50 per user, per month. In many cases, the TCO of mobile devices in a COPE plan is lower in the long term.

Other cost factors for TCO of mobile devices

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is another cost that organizations must consider. The cost of EMM suites has risen over the last few years due to the addition of new features, such as MAM and analytics. Also, organizations will need to assign an IT admin to manage the systems.

EMM platforms cost $40 to $50 per user, per month for on-premises installations and $50 to $65 per user, per month for cloud-based systems. The costs of on-premises platforms, however, do not include servers and maintenance. Cloud-based systems are typically less expensive than on-premises platforms, but organizations might have to sacrifice customization and security.

Organizations should implement the right EMM and enable the correct policies to boost productivity. Organizations should keep an eye on the fluctuating costs of COPE plans versus BYOD and periodically review which policy works best for their team. IT should keep servers, patches and updates current; downtime can be the largest source of hidden costs.

This was last published in August 2018

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