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New Gadgets for Your Employees?

New Gadgets for Your Employees?

By T.J. Bloom

How should IT deal with employees’ requests for the newest tablets and other gadgets? We call it the consumerization of IT.

We tend to take our time with these things -- especially if we will be rolling out a new gadget to several users -- even though we love our gadgets as much as anyone else. We like to see whether the market will shake out some gadgets that don’t take off or hold up. In the tablet world right now, for example, do we go with the iPad, HP Slate or even the Xoom? They are all cool products. So how do you know what to get?

Do a Cost-benefit Analysis

Before making the purchase, the employee should justify it with a cost-benefit analysis. For instance, we’ve just started purchasing iPads for our employees who we believe can justify the expense with an increase in productivity. Using the iPad for sales-related activities makes a lot of sense to us. We feel a tablet is much less invasive to customers when giving demos at their desks. It’s easy and quick to get booted up, and the battery life is second to none. Compare this gadget to a laptop, which takes much more space and time to display. You have to have a place to set a laptop (and hope the customer has a large desk) and a bag to carry a laptop.

When considering whether or not to purchase a new gadget, the first thing you need to ask is, is it in the budget? If we didn’t budget for this item this year, I would not deviate from that. It’s hard to track back bottom-line results or income from something like this. But if you are going to be printing a $500 sales brag book or demo book with full color pictures and samples this year for each sales person, you might consider a tablet instead.

Get Familiar With the Technology
When it comes to support, with technology changing so quickly these days, it is very hard to keep up with the latest gadgets. If we see a trend or are purchasing a number of devices, such as cell phones for employees, then we will try to order one or two to let the tech team get familiar with them.

My advice is, try to standardize as much as possible. Everyone wants something newer, better or just different. But determine which roles, such as sales, should get a particular device and then put it in writing. And try to standardize on one thing for the group.

You can’t know every phone and every device. Sometimes it just takes time.

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T.J. Bloom is chief operating officer of MDL Technology LLC, a Kansas City IT support company.

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