That $500 PDA Costs The Boss Nearly $2,700

Better not let the chief executive see you walking around, entering names and phone numbers in that personal digital assistant you just purchased for less than $500. It's going to cost the company $2,700 a year, the GartnerGroup said at its Symposium and IT Expo in Florida this week.

Better not let the chief executive see you walking around, entering names and phone numbers in that personal digital assistant you just purchased for less than $500. It's going to cost the company $2,700 a year, the GartnerGroup said at its Symposium and IT Expo in Florida this week.

GartnerGroup analyst Ken Dulaney said he applied to personal digital assistants the Gartner's Total Cost of Ownership model, previously used to judge the annual cost of personal computers and laptops, and found the typical cost for a $450 device was $2,690 a year. The cost for similar, Windows CE-based devices was $100 more than that due to "the more complex interface" of creating a Windows-like environment.

In an eerie echo of the PC revolution, Dulaney concluded, "The personal digital assistant phenomenon has caught the IS organization unprepared. There are no funds to support such devices and integration with network resources is being reluctantly given."

PDAs are no longer cute schedulers and calendars because they can contain a disk drive and integrated communications, he said. Some link up to a personal computer for updating databases on the desktop machine. Information systems staffs make certain that desktops and laptops are secure, but the PDAs, with much organizational data carried on them, "are not secure. Linking them results in an enterprise disassembling the hard work done to secure the (corporate) environment," he said.

In another echo of the PC era, Dulaney noted that PDAs are purchased by individuals but "must become managed corporate assets."

Of the $2,690, 40 percent is spent on end users entering information and updating that information, combined with time spent as end users try to recover from downtime; 24 percent is capital expenditure on PDAs themselves or equipment to integrate them into the network; 23 percent is administrative costs and just 13 percent is technical support, he said.

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