Bring your own device, otherwise known as BYOD, is on the rise. Put simply, it’s about allowing (and encouraging) your employees to use their own smartphones and tablets in the workplace. The benefits are touted as being flexibility, improved familiarity with the technology (and therefore greater efficiency) and reduced costs.
Certainly, if your team need mobile technology – and let’s face it, competitive advantage often derives from having people who are able to work anytime, anyhow, anywhere – then despite the tax write-off equipping even a small workforce can be expensive. And the money your save through them providing their own smartphones can be invested in the business instead. BYOD sounds good.
However, a study by the Aberdeen Group from just a couple of years ago reported the BYOD actually costs rather than saves money. It cited the finding that a BYOD program with a thousand devices would in fact cost an average of extra $170,000 per year. Now for a small business or startup, a thousand tablets or smartphones is clearly overkill but given that bulk usually means economies of scale, the additional cost per person/item might be more in a smaller business environment. So, what are the hidden costs of BYOD?
Less bargaining power.
The first downside of leaving others to source the hardware is that you can’t negotiate a better deal. When you buy for the team, you’re in a position to haggle over discounts and extra benefits with the provider. When it’s ‘every man for himself’ then the deals on offer are those available to everybody; nothing more.
Tariffs and data plans.
This is a management issue. when somebody is using their smartphone for the business, it seems fair for the business to pay for the calls, messages, downloads, and so on. However, when the phone is used for personal stuff too, it can be a nightmare to separate out all the calls and chats with friends and family. However, with an eye on the corporate ledger, you don’t want to be paying for those international calls, do you? The cost-sharing option is the fairest to both you and the employee but it can take some time to administer.
If you have help desk support, whether you get it from someone within the business, or it’s a service from an external supplier, it’s more complicated (and therefore costs more in time and money) when a variety of marks and models must be supported. In fact, if the variety is sufficiently wide, hardware support may not even be possible.
You need to know who is using what device and where and what software and apps are being used on it. Deployment issues are so much easier to handle when you own (and control) the devices in use. Whether you ask individual employees to update a personal record, or make a single person responsible for tracking the hardware, it’s time taken from the business.
This is the biggest issue with mobile devices and it doesn’t matter who owns them. You need to know who is downloading what data (customer or employee) and where, onto which device. You also need to be reassured that the device is loaded up with the approved antivirus, security settings and encryption software. A bunch of identical BlackBerries that you just bought at a discount are much easier and quicker to configure and track than a smorgasbord of different smartphone, some of which may not be exactly cutting edge. The only way to be sure and secure is to utilize a multi-platform management solution to track and monitor data movement; yet more expense.