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More firms give workers phones, tablets

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More companies are supplying their employees with smartphones and tablets – and many of then pick up the usage bill as well.

International Data Corporation (IDC) has announced a new report, A Practical Guide to a Mobile Strategy: Results from IDC’s Mobile Benchmark Study, designed to address the most pressing questions facing IT executives with regard to their mobile device policies, adoption of tablets, and mobile application development costs and practices.

The goal of the study, based on responses from CIOs and IT professionals in the US and Europe, is to provide IT organizations with insight into how their peers have addressed similar mobility issues.

According to the survey, corporate-liable devices still prevail with 77% of respondents’ organisations providing corporate-liable smartphones to their employees and 49% providing tablets in 2011. Of these corporate-liable devices, 70% were purchased by the organisation and issued to the employees while only 7% were purchased by the employee with full or partial reimbursement.

Additional highlights from IDC’s Mobile Benchmark Study include:

* Employees in executive, sales, IT, and marketing job functions are more often issued a smartphone over other functions within an organisation.

* For corporate-liable smartphones, most organisations (73%) pay the entire mobile service bill (voice and data) directly to the mobile service provider. Similarly, 71% of organisations pay the entire mobile service plan for corporate-liable tablets.

* To mitigate risk and support costs of letting employees bring their own devices, 45% of the respondents provide limited IT help desk support for business applications on individual-liable smartphones, while 42% report they provide limited IT help desk support for business applications on individual-liable tablets. In both cases, hardware issues are relayed back to the mobile service provider. In 33% of the organisations surveyed, no support is provided for individual-liable smartphones and 44% of respondents reported no support for individual-liable tablets.

* Surprisingly, a high percent of respondents reported they expect tablets will be a second device to the laptop/desktop. The notion that tablets would be treated as second devices to laptops and refreshed every 2,5 years will be costly for IT organisations in the long run. IDC estimates it will cost the average large organization an additional 1% of their IT budget every year just to refresh the tablets alone.

“Many IT organisations are currently working through their mobile device strategy and policy issues. To be successful, IDC recommends that IT executives establish a governance committee including finance, HR, and Legal to outline a comprehensive Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy, including use policies and cost allocation methods,” says Meredith Whalen, senior vice-president: IT Executive & Industry Research at IDC. “Most importantly, we recommend IT executives identify the costs associated with developing and supporting multiple mobile platforms, and apply a governance strategy to mobile application development efforts to ensure projects are prioritized based on the highest value add to the enterprise.”

IDC’s Mobile Benchmark Study was designed to address the biggest questions IT executives are facing around their mobile device policies, including tablet adoption and mobile application development costs and practices. The goal of this study is to provide IT organisations with insight into how their peers have addressed similar mobility issues.