Handheld devices flooding into companies will drive up total cost of ownership by nearly $1,800 per device, analysts warned this week.
These devices, becoming increasingly common amongst employees, can put a major dent in corporate IT budgets, Gartner Group experts told attendees at the company's annual Symposium.
They estimate support and maintenance costs for a Palm device at $2,690 per year, and for Windows CE machines slightly higher because of increased technical support requirements, at $2,790.
Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner Group, said: "Smart phones, PDAs, organisers and mini-notebooks, running a multitude of different OSs and applications will create a whole new breed of headache for IS organisations."
"These things are sneaking in the back door and you cannot stop all of them," he added.
In fact, he said, these are useful tools that promote productivity. But for this reason, they carry important data and become integral to daily work.
"The PDA phenomenon has largely caught IS organisations unprepared. There are no funds to support such devices, and integration with network resources is being reluctantly given, since these devices are 95 per cent unsecured," said Ken Dulaney, Gartner Group vice president and analyst.
The number of client device types supported by the enterprise will increase fivefold by 2004, he said.
Companies should bring in corporate policies and centralised purchasing to limit the number of different software and hardware platforms that need support. Also they should include these devices in security polices to prevent data security being compromised.
Gartner predicts that there will be at least 30 million handheld computers in the world by 2003, with the 100 million mark being passed easily within 10 years.
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