One reason many businesses turn to a “bring your own device,” or BYOD, environment is to reduce overhead operating costs. Supplying mobile devices and calling and data plans for every employee adds up; even with business pricing and discounts for purchasing in bulk, mobile communications can cost thousands of dollars per month. Allowing employees to use their own devices and reimbursing them for their costs represents a significant savings — on the surface; however, when implementing a BYOD plan, many companies fail to realize that an effective and secure BYOD plan will actually incur some additional costs, including licensing fees and additional support needed for security and help-desk functions.
These extra costs do not have to keep your company from employing a BYOD strategy. With effective planning and the right security strategies, allowing employees to use their own devices can both increase productivity and cut costs — something all businesses are looking to do.
Hidden Cost: Infrastructure
In order for employees to access corporate software and networks via mobile devices, the company needs to purchase licenses that allow multiple users. In some cases, the mobile version of the software, such as an inventory-management program, requires an additional licensing fee. Other fees include maintenance costs for the mobile platform that cover updates to the software. According to a study by Trend Micro, more than 60 percent of companies consider these infrastructure costs when implementing a BYOD program; however, most believe the benefits offset the cost and are able to roll the costs into the overall telecommunications budget. To reduce these costs, companies should look closely at who has access to particular software platforms. Not only will restricting access to certain areas of the network to those who truly need the access reduce the number of licenses that must be purchased, it will also improve security. Allowing access to those who do not need it creates a potential security risk.
Hidden Cost: Tech Support
Another significant cost associated with BYOD is support. When something goes wrong with the device, someone needs to help repair it. Some organizations shift that responsibility to the employees — they own the devices, so they are responsible for maintenance and repairs. This does reduce costs, but it takes some of the control away from the company. For security reasons, you want some control over employee mobile devices. To keep costs to a minimum, many companies take a hybrid approach to tech support, incorporating mobile-device-management protocols to ensure security, and offering a limited level of tech support.
Hidden Cost: Multi-Platform Support
The debate is as contentious as almost any other: Apple iOS or Android? When a company shifts to a BYOD, it’s very likely there will be employees on both sides of the debate, each claiming that their operating platform and device is superior. Although IT might have its own preference, in many cases, a BYOD environment means the company will incur additional costs in supporting both platforms. The office may work on PCs, for example, but if an employee on the road wants to work using an iPad, she’ll need an iOS-based app to access important networks and data. The easiest way to reduce these costs is to restrict employee-owned devices to a single platform. The choice depends largely on organizational preference, but limiting the devices to one operating system will reduce the costs associated with maintaining and supporting multiple platforms.
Hidden Cost: Data Loss
It’s nearly impossible to quantify the effects that a data breach can have on a company before they happen, but in any case, they are bound to be significant; in fact, it is the fear of security breaches and data theft that prevent many organizations from embracing the BYOD model; however, with a comprehensive MDM-and-security plan, companies can mitigate the potential damage of a breach. At a minimum, the MDM policy should outline acceptable use, incorporate password protection and encryption and allow for remote access for security updates, locking or wiping when necessary.
On the surface, when comparing dollar-for-dollar costs, it might appear that BYOD is more expensive than an employer-sponsored mobile management plan; however, when you consider the increased productivity — valued, by some estimates, at more than $1,000 per month per employee — the costs are actually negligible. With a comprehensive plan for managing the security and the costs of BYOD, any company can reap the rewards of a more productive and satisfied workforce.
About the Author: Handley Wheaton is a financial analyst with more than a decade of experience working in the financial sector. He is well-known for his ability to manage costs while also ensuring optimum productivity and reducing the impact on operations. Handley utilizes Trend Micro integrated data loss prevention in his business.