Whether BYOD or BYOT, There May be Hidden Costs to Those Policies

Employee personal mobile devices go beyond the smartphones they use. Personal mobile devices include tablets, smart watches and laptops — anything that an employee can personally bring to and from the office that utilizes mobile device management software. Accordingly, the acronym BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device, has morphed into BYOT: Bring Your Own Technology.

Back in 2012, CIO Magazine reported that a company with 1,000 mobile devices ended up spending an extra $170,000 per year because of BYOD policies. Cisco, who had happily and loudly saved between 17 percent and 22 percent after deploying a BYOD program, turned out to be the exception.

I hesitate to describe the unexpected costs of a BYOT policy as “hidden.” Those costs are less hidden and more unaccounted for and unplanned. Things like network service, security and compliance factors and multi-departmental support are extraneous costs that are crucial add-ons to that policy.

Security Measures

The evolution of BYOT begets the necessity for new resources, updating existing networks and double-checking security protocol to accommodate the new device policy.

Raconteur, an online publication that covers the business, technology and finance sectors, explained that “the first generation of BYOD policies left much to be desired and caused significant unease among employees.” The main takeaway from that first iteration of BYOD policy was that first and foremost, corporate data that lived on employee-owned devices has to be assuredly protected. Security safeguards on employee-owned devices has to mimic the extensive ones that existed on company-owned devices, especially in the event of loss or theft.

Research specialist Kevin Armstrong discussed the inevitable cybersecurity issues that can crop up once a company turns to a BYOT program. Employee-owned personal devices are vulnerable to security breaches or hackings, which then put their employer’s network at risk. He posits that businesses should take greater control regarding any security measures put upon employee-owned devices. At the very least, that would reduce individual levels of inadvertent compromises of sensitive data.

But upping the ante on security protocols means upping the cost on the services, computers and humans that will be enforcing and maintaining those protocols.

READ: A History of Hacking
Risk Management

This segues us nicely into the discussion about risk management.

Endpoint protection is a very important aspect in protecting company data when it comes to BYOT, according to eSecurityPlanet, a publication dedicated to internet security news. There’s no way that corporate-owned devices can keep up with the new Android or iPhone update. Therefore, businesses should turn their attentions to figuring out how to work around the default configurations that come with employee-owned devices. Additionally, they should focus on the fact that mobile devices are, in fact, mobile. Employees cart them around everywhere, not just at the office, and those devices are usually tethered to personal or public WiFi.  

The cost savings that organization heads receive from BYOT plans are in hardware. However, they’ll more than make up that cost with backend infrastructure, mobile device and application security measures and regulatory compliance fees.

Operational Expenditure

Another consideration when implementing a BYOT program are the costs of reimbursement and/or overhead. Organizational heads must decide between paying a BYOD stipend (which would reimburse employees for mobile device usage) or turning to a second-line service that’s able to differentiate between business and personal use of devices. Both require an investment, but the latter can streamline the costs into a mutually agreeable cost-sharing model.

Overhead expenditure also is  a consideration that can quickly rack up costs. The good thing about a BYOT program is that the cost of supporting, securing and maintaining mobile devices goes down drastically. After all, the employees themselves will be fronting the costs of the phone itself. However, businesses must take steps to insure the data on that phone and pay for a dedicated support staff. A dedicated support staff is crucial should problems arise on those phones because of any deployed mobile application, mobile device or enterprise mobility management softwares.  

Cost Gains

But don’t let this completely deter you and your business from investing in a BYOT program. Costs of BYOT varies from company to company. Size, focus, scale and scope of a company all play into the mounting costs.  

According to the MSP Hub, provider of business content for managed service providers, return on investment (ROI) will ultimately be “derived not from pure cost recovery but from improved employee productivity through easier network access and constant connectivity.”

The most important thing is the careful understanding of what a successful deployment and adoption of BYOT will look like. You must rethink your existing or future BYOT or overall mobile device strategy. Have you taken note of any and all potential costs? What will a BYOT program do for your company’s culture? Is worker productivity and employee empowerment the absolute bottom line? What other capital expenditures will a BYOT program reduce, allowing you to make up for extra costs that you may have been unprepared for?

I encourage everyone to check out the Buyer’s Guides that exist for Mobile Device Management Software, Mobile Application Management Software and Enterprise Mobility Management Software here at G2 Crowd.. They are a great jumping off point during your research phase.

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