The Hidden Costs of BYOD


A bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy blurs the line between work and personal use of mobile devices. Similarly, its true costs are not always easy to see. Here’s what you need to know about measuring the full impact of a BYOD policy on your organization.
BYOD is a popular way to let employees use their favorite devices for work. Enterprises have embraced it because device choice is a valuable perk for attracting and keeping top talent, especially when workers can get the latest phone or tablet on the platform that helps them feel the most productive. But even with the widespread adoption of BYOD, companies should be aware of the risks, costs and alternatives.

Spending Money to Save Money?

If companies calculate BYOD cost savings based on how much they reimburse employees each month for wireless service plans as compared with the mobile device management (MDM) cost for corporate-owned and managed devices, the difference between these amounts may look like savings in favor of BYOD. But there are costs and considerations involved in the reimbursement process:

  • If you use expense reports for work-related mobile device usage, how long do employees spend filling out these reports? Multiply that number—plus time spent by management, accounts payable and the finance department—by 12 if workers submit reports monthly.
  • Who decides which roles will be eligible for reimbursement, and does your company need to ensure that this policy is followed? Factor in the time required for these tasks.
  • If the reimbursement process touches many departments, this creates more work for end users, accounts payable, finance and possibly other stakeholders. That effort can add up quickly in terms of employee time.
  • Calculate the tax implications of whatever reimbursement format you choose.

When companies own the mobile devices that employees use for work, as opposed to allowing BYOD, they can buy services in bulk from a single carrier. This allows for better bargaining leverage and higher discounts than what consumers pay for individual plans.

Minding the Store (and the Security)

There are security and management issues to weigh, too. When enterprises buy mobile devices for employees, they select the platform based on what they are comfortable supporting. They can also automate device deployment and management in a scalable way. And because they purchase devices in bulk, they receive a volume-discount rate. With BYOD, on the other hand:

  • IT must support a wide range of hardware and software, which requires more time and effort than assisting users with a specified range of devices. You could try requiring employees to get their own support through their original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but that won’t help their productivity.
  • Instead of relying on automated deployment, IT staff must input each BYOD device into a management system, which means manually recording phone numbers, device identity numbers and employee information. Extra IT hours add up to extra expense.
  • Employees tend to download apps without considering workplace security. The more apps a device holds, the more likely it is that some may contain malicious code or security holes.
  • IT must apply security controls to a multitude of hardware and operating system combinations, which can lower protection performance, even when companies use an MDM solution. This is true because OS or app-specific vulnerabilities may circumvent existing device controls .

With corporate-owned and -managed devices, it’s easier to control and track app use. Deprovisioning devices when employees leave the company is also quicker and easier.

Finding the Right Balance

The bottom line: BYOD isn’t the only game in town. Other models offer choice, such as corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE) devices, meaning that companies provide employees with mobile devices for work and personal use. There is also a related choose-your-own-device (CYOD) policy, which gives employees a wider range of corporate-approved devices to pick from.

Depending on your needs, you can apply one or more of these models. If you’re not sure which options are right for your enterprise, a good mobility services partner can help assess your current needs and costs or supply helpdesk support, device configuration and deployment, MDM, and so on.

Want to learn more about developing a smart, balanced BYOD policy for your organization? Download Ensuring BYOD Is a Win-Win Situation for practical tips on getting started


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