TC2's David Rohde on Telecom

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The hidden costs of BYOD are broad and deep

By David Rohde Posted August 14, 2012

BYOD is risky, but at least it saves money, right? It turns out that even that’s not a sure thing. According to the Aberdeen research group, BYOD actually costs 33% more than the traditional corporate-wireless model, where companies purchase the devices and plans under their own liability for payment.

How can that be? Aberdeen identifies 10 key points to add up the reasons in a slideshow appended to a note from eweek about the Aberdeen cost comparison.

Many of the hidden BYOD costs spring from the fact that if you let employees “bring your own device” to work, well then, they expect work-like support. That means the same sort of network, bandwidth, reliability, and (especially) help desk you or your carrier now provide. And the security challenges are infinitely greater.

There is a silver lining in all this: in a sense, every enterprise probably has a little bit of BYOD in their companies already. As the eweek presentation says, “You need to understand who is already using personal devices during work and off hours.” In your enterprise, this probably is already imposing costs in terms of help desk resources (formal or informal) and, quite likely, network management tools.

So it’s a sliding scale. The question is whether you want to manage the occasional BYOD that’s already occurring, or whether you want to replace traditional corporate wireless procurements with BYOD.

Many large enterprises love the enhanced productivity that wireless brings, but not its added costs (wireless now accounts for nearly half of the telecom expenses at many enterprises).  Many companies have decided to try to have their cake and eat it too by jettisoning their corporate-liable wireless plans in favor of giving employees a flat monthly amount (say, $25) for wireless.

The problem with rushing to BYOD is that it wrongly assumes that the costs of wireless end with the handsets and the MRCs. In addition to enterprise-grade network and support, security is another headache: corporate liable devices can be “wiped” quickly and easily when lost or stolen, but individual-liable devices cannot. Finally, BYOD complicates DAS deployments because, as Joanie Wexler notes in a piece for Webtorials, employees connecting to the corporate network might be subscribed to any of a number of carrier voice and data services. “This could mean you’ll have to boost the signals of two or more carriers, which can get complex, expensive and more than a little political,” she says.

For many enterprises, BYOD may offer short-term savings, but it could also impose substantial costs in the form of increased infrastructure needs, technical support, bandwidth, and risk. Enterprises charting their wireless course need to factor in all of these issues before making a final decision.

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