By Tim Eusterman, sr. director, industry marketing, Intermec, www.intermec.com
Some of the important considerations for a TCO (total cost of ownership) analysis are often overlooked.
There is no doubt that the rise of the smartphone and tablet is causing IT and operations leaders in field service driven companies to rethink their mobile computing strategy. These devices combine a new capability of form factor and user interface — driven by point-specific apps — that are changing how people perceive ease-of-use, convenience, and personal productivity. Today, we’ve gone well beyond the halfjoking “there’s an app for that” to a world where mobile workers expect instant, easy information access, leading IT and operations executives to face difficult questions.
Best-in-class companies work hard building strategies and getting clarity on business objectives for field reps and technicians. They understand which key metrics are best used to measure the performance for their particular businesses. These metrics, or KPIs, are typically a few higher-level metrics that drive customer satisfaction, revenue, and profitability. Often there can be several underlying metrics that impact how these are calculated and the criteria used to define these measures.
There is one common
building-block metric without
which it is nearly impossible
to develop a complete
management and productivity
solution that drives field
workforce performance —
TCO of the device carried by
the field worker. Here we will
explore TCO to help shed
some light on considerations
for your business.
Many people think TCO is
a simple cost measure. But
cost can be interpreted in several important ways.
The most common way to measure cost is the "hard"
cost associated with purchase price, maintenance
fees, data and voice plans, time and material repair
costs per incident, batteries and their replacement
costs, chargers, accessories, etc. These are the easiest
to compare side-by-side for given devices, accessories,
and associated services. But they tell far from the
whole TCO story.
Another area of cost to contemplate, admittedly
harder to compare, is the basic performance costs
associated with time-centric measures like first-time
scan read-rate, signature capture time, remote payment
capture processing time, system host application wait
time, image focus/capture, data upload/download
performance, video buffering wait times, battery
recharge cycle times, etc. These are often very closely
tied to the underlying technology and how well it is
built to match specific use needs. These characteristics
impact user performance in many ways, but often only
seconds at a time. The downside of ignoring elements
measured in seconds is that those seconds add up to
minutes, hours, days.
Don't Forget Opportunity
Cost In Your TCO Evaluation
An often overlooked area is that of opportunity
cost. This has to do with measures like uptime
or availability, battery life cycle per charge/shift,
voice call clarity, ergonomics, display usability,
worker acceptance, etc. This cost category requires a
comparison between products designed for specific
applications and consumer-grade, horizontally
applicable products. It is critical to understand the
value of a missed appointment, an incomplete service
call, compiling manual logs sheets for a day, the wait
time for a replacement unit, or not being able to take
an electronic payment on-site. All these factor into
real costs of lost opportunity that impact customer
satisfaction, topline revenue, and overall profitability.
Lastly, there is the cost associated with device
management, upgrades, and future applications.
With apologies to Shakespeare, to BYOD or
not to BYOD is not necessarily the question.
Understanding the impact of deploying and
supporting the operating system, browser, host
application, client-side application, predictive
device health monitoring, help desk, and other realtime
management of field units is no trivial matter.
And these do not speak to new workflow-specific
applications that companies will want to deploy
within the lifetime of the device. So, carefully
understanding the interdependencies of all these
elements on the overall system and support costs
is a critical and often underappreciated calculation.
While these evaluations must be made with
respect to business objectives, operating
conditions, workflows, customer interactions, and
other criteria, with some work and help from
your solution provider you can develop a robust
TCO calculation that will serve you well today
and use real-world results to improve your mobile
computing solution decisions tomorrow.