Hidden BYOD hurdles could complicate wireless expense management
Bring-your-own-device programs are coming thick and fast these days, attracting the attention of everyone from government technology executives to small-business owners. Conventional wisdom suggests that leveraging personally-owned smartphones and tablets is a surefire way to control corporate wireless spend, but emerging evidence suggests that hidden costs could complicate matters.
Mobility is no longer a competitive differentiator in the business community, as it has become an imperative. As operational demands and employee expectations force the issue, companies can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines.
“With an eye toward becoming mobile businesses, today’s organizations are committed to mobilizing critical applications by ensuring that workers have access anywhere, including at home, at remote work or customer sites and while traveling,” Strategy Analytics’ Gina Luk explained in a recent mobile workforce report. “Use of 3G and 4G Wi-Fi networks provide the bandwidth needed for accessing business applications on mobile devices.”
This constant connectivity comes at a significant premium, however. As companies bolster their own infrastructure and contract the services of business partners, Gartner analysts expect IT teams worldwide to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on telecom equipment and services this year. This staggering figure is also likely to be aided by a number of organizations lacking the knowledge or foresight to optimize their mobile billing processes.
Although the popularity of BYOD has grown by leaps and bounds in recent months, there may be some significant flaws in the logic driving strategic decision-making. Citing research from an Aberdeen Group study, CIO Magazine columnist Tom Kaneshige noted that BYOD programs are actually $170,000 more expensive to manage, on average, for a sample of 1,000 devices during a 12-month period.
“Organizations that simply say BYOD is about productivity and have completely ignored the cost structure are playing with a blank check,” Aberdeen analyst Hyoun Park told CIO.
The task of mobile device management often falls on the shoulders of an organization’s chief information officer, but their limited experience with financial reporting often leads to costly missteps in wireless expense management. According to Kaneshige, one of the largest hidden costs within the BYOD approach centers on reimbursement.
Businesses that strictly rely on company-owned smartphones and tablets are able to centralize and streamline the cellular billing process through one team and often one person. Conversely, the BYOD model relies on employee-provided expense reports after they take their personal carrier bills out of the mailbox each month. Accounting for the administrative burden associated with gathering and processing reimbursement requests from all over the company, Aberdeen suggests that BYOD models cost an extra $24 per person each month.
The other significant disadvantage posed by BYOD is that companies can no longer take advantage of bulk discounting through a single telecom provider. According to Kaneshige, corporate contracts not only lock in a lower rate for the actual hardware, but companies are also provided with a reduced monthly premium from their chosen wireless carrier that is well below the standard consumer rate.