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Employee-Owned Notebooks

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Dell_vostro_1310.jpgBusinesses are increasingly considering the use of employee-owned notebooks, and more than 40 per cent of organisations have a policy regarding the use of employee-owned PCs, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Companies in the sample expect the average number of workers using employee-owned notebooks as their primary work PC to increase from 10 per cent in 2009 to 14 per cent by mid-2010.

The survey took place in the second quarter of 2009 and involved 528 IT managers in organisations with more than 500 employees in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom via a combination of phone-based and web-based interviews.

During the past two years, nine out of ten companies have addressed the issue of employee-owned devices. Nearly half (48 per cent) prohibit their use outright; many others (43 per cent) have specific policies that allow their use.

“While employee-owned notebook programmes started to appear a couple of years ago, the acceptance of such schemes by organisations varies greatly,” said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner. “However, in the current climate of cost containment, large businesses are exploring all possibilities offered by alternative client computing architectures and device solution, and that includes employee-owned PCs.”

The Gartner survey found that service companies, such as insurance and telecommunications companies, are more likely to allow employee-owned PCs than organisations in the manufacturing, wholesale or government sectors. There were also differences from a country point of view with 60 per cent of the German companies in the sample currently allowing the use of employee-owned PCs versus only 30 per cent of US and UK companies.

Across all three surveyed countries, organisations expect to see an increase in the average number of notebook users that are using employee-owned PCs in the next 12 to 18 months. US companies expect to see the biggest increases in employee-owned PCs with approximately a 60 per cent increase. German companies expect a nearly 40 per cent increase, while UK organisations expect only modest increases of approximately 15 per cent in the next year.

“Growing numbers of employees are asking to use personally owned notebooks for work and an increasing proportion of companies will meet these requests through employee-owned notebook programmes, which define policies for usage, technical requirements and process for maintenance and support,” said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Gartner analysts said that successful employee-owned notebook programs have the potential to improve predictability and manageability of the users’ software environment. Compared with less-managed deployment scenarios, a managed virtual machine on an employee-owned notebook offers total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of between 9 per cent and 40 per cent when compared with company provided notebooks.

Gartner maintains that most of the cost savings with employee-owned notebooks are in indirect management costs. The direct costs of a virtual machine on an employee-owned mobile PC are actually higher than for a company-provided mobile PC, but this is more than compensated for by the greater worker satisfaction and potential increased productivity.

“PC vendors cannot afford to miss the phenomenon of employee-owned notebooks and we advise them to create employee-purchase programmes that not only include hardware devices but also services and support options for users,” Ms Jump said. “PC vendors selling to the enterprise and midsize business segments should create PC products that combine features of business and consumer PCs.”

“Starting in 2010 in selected mature markets, PC vendors could create specific bundles, marketed through commercial retail channels, specifically for those using their own PC in the enterprise,” said Ms Escherich. “The hardware and software combination should include virtualisation software, productivity applications and the consumer’s favourite applications.”

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “Employee-Owned Notebooks Gaining Popularity in Mature Markets.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1210414.

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