Bring your own device (BYOD) programs that let employees use their personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices for work purposes are becoming increasingly common. No one doubts that there are advantages to these programs in terms of employee productivity and satisfaction. That said, whether they actually save businesses money or incur outrageous new costs has been a matter of debate in the business and IT circles.
Based on a survey conducted by Osterman Research, such programs do have significant costs associated with them. On average, the study indicates that they will raise IT expenses by 48% between 2011 and 2013. Those costs, while real, may not always be easily seen or quantified in many companies.
The study, reported by Computerworld and funded by Azaleos, a cloud services company, found that BYOD programs can significantly increase IT staffing needs. That’s a major cost factor. Unless staff are dedicated to handling mobile initiatives, however, it may be difficult to break out those increased staffing costs as being iOS or mobile-specific.
Making those staffing costs more complex and expensive is the fact that Osterman found that the additional staff needed was increasing year over year even when the number of mobile devices being supported remain unchanged. The company found that supporting 1,000 BYOD devices required adding 2.9 full-time employees in 2011. This year, supporting that same number of users and their devices will require 3.6 full-time employees. The company predicts that next year the need will be 4 full-time workers.
That cost can be broken down to an effective annual cost per BYOD user as $229 for 2011, $294 for 2012 and $339 per for 2013.
Staffing costs for supporting and training mobile users, managing devices, and related IT tasks aren’t the only expenses. There’s also the cost of implementing a mobile management strategy that delivers access to corporate resources on employee devices, providing some device and/or data security, and potential app expenses paid by an employer.
Exchange is often the first mobile management consideration. iOS has supported some Exchange security policies and the ability to wipe a lost/stolen device since the release of iOS 2 and the iPhone 3G in 2008. Other mobile platforms also integrate Exchange support, but the level of management it can provide varies between mobile platforms and mobile OS versions. Osterman found that one-third of companies declared Exchange insufficient for their needs – meaning additional mobile management tools are required.
The costs and options available from mobile management vendors varies, but can be significant. In many situations, that is seen as the primary BYOD expense because it is easy to identify while staffing costs and costs related to mobile security breaches are harder to identify.
- Source Computerworld