6 Ways to Control the Costs of BYOD

Follow these tips to minimize common hidden expenses associated with BYOD programs.

At first blush, bring-your-own-device programs may appear to be an easy means of saving money when budgets are tight — passing on the costs of buying and supporting mobile devices to employees should be an easy win.

However, without careful planning, the hidden costs of BYOD may dwarf any savings. For example, Aberdeen Group reports that an organization with 1,000 mobile devices will spend an extra $170,000 per year on BYOD because of increased wireless carrier costs, management overhead, security and compliance.

Clearly, there's more to achieving savings from BYOD than simply drafting a policy. Cost control is a global responsibility. Reducing IT costs at the expense of other departmental budgets may help the CIO's budget but does nothing to benefit the organization as a whole. That's why it's imperative to appropriately account for the costs and benefits of implementing a BYOD program before proceeding. The following tips will help shed light on the costs and benefits of this mobility model.

1. Adopt wireless expense management.

Assuming that em­ployees will be reimbursed for wireless operating expenses, exchanging a single wireless provider that offers volume discounts and centralized billing for direct expense reimbursement can quickly eat up potential savings if equivalent controls aren't put in place. The difference between an organizationwide volume-discount rate and the rate an individual employee might pay can be $10 or more per month. On top of this, the average cost of processing an expense claim is $18.

To minimize these expenses, limit BYOD programs to carriers that are willing to extend volume discounts to individual employees, and restrict participation to employees who already submit monthly expense reports.

2. Maintain data security controls.

Security standards must be maintained to ensure that a BYOD program doesn't heighten either the possibility or consequences of a data security breach. A single breach will cost many times more than any potential savings achieved through BYOD.

Adopting BYOD does not mean handing over all decision-making responsibility to individual workers. Data ­security controls must be in place to prevent possible exposure in the event of mobile device loss or theft. Establish a requirement to have mobile device management and/or mobile application management software installed on employee-owned devices to ensure data security policies can be enforced. If additional security measures need to be implemented to support BYOD, then of course additional costs will be incurred.

3. Factor in application costs.

BYOD may require the IT organization to support multiple mobile device operating systems. Developing applications for each platform can be cost-prohibitive, especially when customization is required. Instead, consider multiplatform development environments capable of creating operating system–specific applications from a single template. Also, think about adopting HTML5 as a way to develop write-once, run-anywhere apps for desktop and mobile devices.

$300 to $1,300 Annual cost savings from BYOD programs per employee, based on the worker's job role

SOURCE: Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group

4. Consider network capacity.

BYOD programs frequently increase the number of mobile devices used within the network. Organizations may need to ­increase Wi-Fi capacity to support the additional traffic. At the same time, it may be necessary to further segment network services so that support for both trusted (organization-­owned and managed) and untrusted (BYOD) devices can be provided without compromising existing network security controls.

New remote access systems or virtual desktop infrastructure technologies may be required to provide appropriate security measures. All these issues should be factored in when planning the costs of a BYOD program.

5. Define support responsibilities.

Passing on the burden of supporting employee-­owned devices to IT will create additional support costs, so budget accordingly. Relying on employees or carriers to provide support can be a false economy because lack of familiarity with the back-end IT infrastructure can lengthen the time spent on problem resolution.

6. Consider all the benefits.

Personal devices incur significantly lower breakage rates — evidence that workers tend to take better care of their own devices than their employer's. Because smartphones and tablets frequently cost more than $600, eliminating the need to replace devices outside of the contract can result in worthwhile savings.

The greatest benefits derived from BYOD are the hardest to track, and also the most likely to deliver the largest return. There's ample evidence that users of personal mobile devices continue to work outside of core office hours, contributing an average of an additional hour per day of personal time. Even assuming significant capital expense associated with application upgrades and network hardening, the likelihood of a BYOD program that encourages employees to extend productivity can generate significant cost savings to the organization overall

Sep 26 2012