Companies that encourage employees to use their own laptops for work are deluding themselves if they think it is an easy way to save IT costs, according to Gartner.
However, the analyst firm believes that the initiatives do have advantages in allowing IT an additional measure of control over rogue users.
The report said that the total cost of ownership of employee-supplied notebooks is not that different from company-bought hardware if the notebooks are well managed.
But Gartner warned that improperly managed employee-supplied notebooks can actually be more expensive.
The firm carried out a series of studies on two types of workers: office-based employees who take a notebook home to extend their hours; and truly mobile workers who are out of the office 80 per cent of the working week.
For both user profiles, the total cost of ownership of a locked and well-managed virtual machine on an employee-owned notebook was broadly similar to that of a well-managed notebook.
"Although total annual costs are typically equal to or better than company-owned notebooks, the savings mainly occur in indirect costs," said Gartner fellow Brian Gammage.
"In all cases, the direct costs related to hardware, software and personnel are higher. This is driven by the additional compensation paid to the user in lieu of hardware acquisition and third-party maintenance and support."
The report goes on to question the motivation for employee-owned notebook programmes, if not for lower costs.
They allow the IT department a more subtle form of control over rogue elements, such as influential knowledge workers who are permitted to flout corporate policy, says Gartner's study.
They also eliminate complaints about company-supplied notebooks by staff.
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