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The Rugged Tablet PC & Total Cost of Ownership

Proving a return on investment and having a proven model to validate the Total Cost of Ownership of mobile computing is vital. No company can invest in mobility and tablet PCs without a clear picture of costs, short-term and long-term. Yet, much of the TCO analysis misses the mark by not considering soft costs and variables that impact user productivity.

One study produced by Venture Development Corporation reports that nearly 50 percent of the total cost of using an enterprise mobile computing device is caused by lost worker productivity when theTablet PC with barcode scanner device fails. VDC also reports the average annual TCO of a ruggedized “large form-factor device,” which is a large tablet or notebook, is $2,814. The average annual TCO for a ruggedized “small form-factor device” such as a small tablet or handheld computer is $2,356. The report’s major conclusions state that TCO analysis must evaluate upfront costs, long-term costs and “soft” costs. Lost worker productivity is an example of a “soft” cost that has significant TCO repercussions.

On average, mobile workers lost 50 to 80 minutes of productivity when their mobile devices fail, reported VDC, who asserts that productivity loss represents as much as 41 percent of a mobile device’s TCO. Other “soft” costs include training and operational elements (see chart below).

The study shows significant TCO savings with rugged tablet PCs. Average annual TCO for a rugged device (large form, i.e., tablet PCs) is $2,814. The TCO for a non-rugged device is $6,598. That’s a 40.4 percent difference. In a 5-year period, the average is $14,071 to $34,788, rugged vs. non-rugged. That’s also a 40.4-percent difference in favor of rugged tablet PCs. The savings on small form factor devices is even greater.

Another incentive for tablet PCs is their ubiquitous capabilities as mobile devices for numerous industries, such as retail, food and beverage, field services and more. TCO advantages for standardizing hardware and software to one device are obvious. Inventory is easier to manage, repairs are systemized and centralized, and application development is streamlined.

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