While 2020 isn’t quite done with us yet, it’s not too early to plan for the future. Many organizations are already thinking about their 2021 IT department budget, and the coming year’s financial plan is unlikely to be business as usual.
In particular, many enterprises are rethinking their annual IT budget in the wake of COVID-19, especially if they aren’t going to bring all employees back to a central office five days a week. Some organizations will choose to go fully remote and mobile. Others may downsize from a large headquarters to a smaller office location that serves as a central meeting hub for individual teams.
This could free up funds that would have been used on office-centric perks, like cushy chairs or high-end coffee machines. Instead, enterprises can reallocate these funds toward better technology for a mobile/remote workforce.
Here are a couple of considerations as you think about your 2021 IT department budget.
Choosing the Equipment
First, determine what your goals are for the coming year. Are you trying to enable a remote workforce to work in new ways, and in new places? Are you hoping to deploy a new mobile device-driven retail solution? Maybe you’re aiming to implement strategic 5G enhancements to deliver new types of internal or external experiences.
Once you have defined your 2021 goals, you will have a better idea of the devices you need to meet them.
Before buying anything, though, be sure you understand what assets you have, as well as what you’re spending on it and how your organization is using it. Once you have visibility into your current technology, you can evaluate whether it’s going to help you meet your goals. If not, you can see where you might need to invest more.
Another consideration is to figure out how — and where — people work. The best hardware allows employees to work reliably, with minimal downtime and support. It also should provide access to all of the programs, apps and communications channels they need to stay connected and do their jobs.
Right now, that’s anything mobile. The most common product category we’re seeing in current IT budgets is mobile devices: smartphones, laptops, tablets and IoT devices.
The right mix of these devices will look different in every company, and even within individual departments. However, their inherent flexibility makes them versatile enough for everything from innovative retail experiences to new, no-contact customer engagements.
Balancing Need with Cost
Everyone likes to save a buck, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of productivity or employee satisfaction.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, investing in the best devices to address a need can save money in the long run. To figure out the best options you can afford, understand what your costs are today.
Also, keep in mind that equipment costs make up only a small portion of overall cost of ownership. You’ll also need to factor in connectivity, carrier plans, features, usage and more.
Finally, remember that cheaper doesn’t equate affordability. In many cases, an older or unreliable piece of equipment can be far more costly than a shiny, new, high-quality one. That’s because of “soft” costs in the form of increased downtime, lost productivity and employee unhappiness. This is especially true for remote-work environments, because employees don’t have access to onsite IT.
What’s more, older devices sometimes don’t support the latest software updates, which creates a security risk. Cyber hacks and attacks create additional costs through downtime, lengthy fixes, loss of customer trust and more. These factors are crucial to consider when strategizing your 2021 IT department budget.
When everyone’s mobile, they care more about the devices they need to do their jobs from anywhere, and less about the in-office perks, like snack closets, that they can’t access anyway.
By allocating funds in your annual IT budget for better equipment, you can help make your employees’ remote work lives easier and less frustrating. This can pay off in vastly improved employee satisfaction — and, in turn, greater customer satisfaction.