Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) isn’t just about statistics.
Field service organizations responsible for everything from home repair to utility services and insurance claims or construction equipment rentals are seeing their workers quickly transform into “information workers”. Workers who need real-time, digitally-delivered data about work orders, customer history, inventory availability and other logistical details at their fingertips all day long in order to be effective. And public safety agencies, manufacturers, energy producers and transportation leaders, whose operational tempo can fluctuate from one minute to the next, are finding the new necessity of fully mobilized “information workers” hard to ignore. The level of situational awareness and constant connectivity required between crew members creates an undeniable reliance on real-time data – and, thus, a reliance on high-performance mobile computers – whether coordinating emergency response actions, responding to rising oil demands, or tracking the delivery of millions of dollars of freight.
In other words, mobility is no longer a question of “if” but “when,” “how,” and – ultimately – “how much”.
Well there are analyst-backed statistics that address each question directly, and I will get to them. But I’ve heard some customers ask if TCO figures somehow become self-serving stats for rugged, enterprise-grade mobile computer manufacturers who want to justify their device pricing. For example, one might wonder if a discount 7” tablet will suffice, or if a purpose-built rugged tablet with a larger screen and more professional-grade capabilities is worth a higher sticker price.
In my opinion, TCO stats can’t be manipulated in such a manner by original equipment manufacturers (OEM). The top industry analyst firms conduct cost analysis studies for mobile technologies independently, and the OEMs and end customers only learn of the studies – and the analysts’ conclusions – once published. These unbiased third-party analysts make a concerted effort to consider both the real costs to an organization as well as mobility’s associated costs. That is how they are able to come up with TCO formulas that help buyers successfully assess how many cheaper, consumer-grade tablets they can deploy and ultimately replace before their total device ownership costs (purchase, deployment, repairs, management, etc.) equate to that of one rugged tablet. In other words, sticker price is just one line item to consider – and analysts know that when developing their TCO formulas.
For example, VDC Research first thoroughly examined the factors that impact TCO in 2013 and revisited the subject again in 2016. In this instance, they were looking at the TCO of rugged versus non-rugged tablets specifically, as you can see in the below table.