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BYOD: If you think you're saving money, think again

Tom Kaneshige | April 5, 2012
It's the battle hymn of the mobile worker: They want to use their personal iPhones, iPads and Android devices instead of company-issued BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBooks to get their jobs done. It's part of a growing trend called BYOD, or bring-your-own-device.

Hidden Cost: Expense Reports

As mentioned earlier, many CIOs aren't on the wireless management ball. These companies spend an average $80-per-month for a company-owned smartphone, or $10 more than a BYOD smartphone. At first glance, this seems to prove BYOD's cost savings, right? Wrong.

You'll have to tack on the hidden cost of reimbursing BYOD employees. Typically, an employee files a monthly expense report for their wireless bill. A single expense report costs about $18 to process, says Aberdeen. Suddenly, the cost of a BYOD smartphone bill runs around $90 per month.

It should be noted that an employee who files an expense report with multiple expenses, including the wireless bill, will still only cost the company $18 to process. That is, mobile BYOD expense reporting will incur this hidden cost only if the expense report was filed solely because of the wireless bill.

BYOD employees often expense their entire wireless bill rather than itemize it. "There's absolutely no visibility into what's personal and what's corporate," Park says. "Even though companies may say they take care of this by putting in a ceiling or fixed expense amount, it doesn't mean they've optimized the cost structure. It just means employees know how high they can go."

Hidden Cost: Security, Management, Data Loss, Oh My!

When a company buys mobile devices in bulk, it can set up a process to automate deployment and management in a scalable way. In a BYOD scenario, an IT person has to input each individual device into a system, punching in phone numbers, IMEIs (international mobile equipment identity), and employee information.

Aberdeen doesn't provide a cost to this labor-intensive practice. Nevertheless, "It's a pretty realistic pain-point for a company dealing with BYOD on an ongoing basis," Park says.

Slideshow: 15 Best iPhone Apps for Busy CEOs

Then there's a boatload of security and compliance costs associated with mobile BYOD. Typically, BYOD brings iOS iPhones and iPads into BlackBerry shops. This means CIOs will have to invest in a multi-platform mobile device management solution and other software, maybe even a VPN (virtual private network) layer.

"The cost of compliance--ensuring governance, risk management and compliance--is also more difficult when devices must be chased down individually," Park says.

One can see how BYOD could become a nightmare for CIOs. Avanade, a business technology services firm, which surveyed more than 600 IT decision makers late last year, discovered something rather alarming: More than half of companies reported experiencing a security breach as a result of consumer gadgets.

Hidden Cost: Who's Helping the Help Desk?

Then there's the hidden cost in help desk support.

With BYOD, IT departments are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place: IT doesn't control the actions of the carrier or the devices, yet is still being held responsible to support BYOD employees, even if IT isn't getting additional resources to do so.

 

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