BYOD: Evaluating the Real Costs

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While they may be the latest trend in mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs require careful consideration. The idea of allowing employees to bring in any device so that they can be more productive for the company seems like a win-win proposition. But many organizations hesitate when it comes to jumping on the BYOD bandwagon because they worry about skyrocketing costs—and they’re right to proceed with caution.

Not having to purchase mobile devices sounds like a cost saver, but developing for, managing, and supporting a heterogeneous mobile environment is usually more expensive than maintaining a standardized set of devices. Support is the area that causes the most concern: How do we support all kinds of models and platforms? Can we even provide custom apps to our user base? How do we support users getting their own devices and plans? Should we provide a mobile operator plan(s) to reduce costs? How will stipends work out? What are the legal details regarding data and device ownership? What are the costs for additional security software that mitigates risks?

It All Adds Up

A BYOD program, if done right, can be an effective way to enable mobility and increase productivity while maintaining employee satisfaction. The key is knowing if it makes sense for your organization.

There are many aspects of BYOD programs that have an effect on total cost of ownership. The best course of action is to conduct a thorough evaluation, starting with raw device costs and factoring in mobile device management (MDM) software or services and apps (whether off-the-shelf or custom-developed). Next, examine possible support costs, consider the impact of heterogeneous devices on your help desk, etc.

Of course, there are always unexpected costs. For instance, security breaches—the source of many an IT staff member’s nightmares—can happen, and they can have a huge impact, especially in certain business verticals. Some organizations fail to take into account legal considerations. A recent lawsuit charged that hourly employees should get extra pay if asked to check email after hours. Also on the legal side, wiping an entire personally owned device (even one that the user has agreed can be wiped by the organization if it’s lost or the user is terminated) can put the organization in the position of being liable for damages. It’s a gray area—more court cases need to be conducted before we can see where all of this will go—but one that you should think about.

Getting it Right

Luckily for all of us, BYOD programs aren’t all-or-nothing propositions. Most successful organizations take a hybrid approach, using BYOD as appropriate for different user groups. Often, upper-level managers get corporate-owned devices, back-office employees take part in BYOD programs, and field-facing staff might use a combination of the two, depending on needs. International organizations need to be guided by local labor laws and regulations because privacy rules are different around the world.

The most important piece of any BYOD program is to ensure that it’s structured correctly from the start. That means gathering requirements and goals, getting sponsors and defining budgets, and fine-tuning it based on user feedback to make sure the program continues to function well as technologies change.

Learn more about getting your BYOD program off on the right foot through our recent webinar, or for help from the experts, contact us.

 

images via: cultofmac


The Next Wave: New Mobile Devices

Until just a few years ago, if an upcoming device generated buzz, that device usually came from Apple. And today’s big event from Apple continues to bring lots of speculation. Apple still delivers great devices, but other players are making device innovation more competitive, going beyond the smartphone and tablet to bring information to you in new and different ways.

The World of Inspector Gadget

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Clip-on computers and “personal area networks” are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Wearable computers are becoming more and more prevalent—and it’s not just about dressing to impress. Visiongain, a UK research company, estimates that wearable technology is a US$4.6 billion business this year, with “explosive growth and high adoption rates” coming in the next five years.

Leading the way are health and fitness applications—health monitoring is an easy sell when it comes to wearable devices, which will be built into shoes, hats, and even clothing. But eventually, health and fitness applications will be surpassed by more general personal information applications. Imagine Apple’s Siri, but built right into the clothes you wear every day.

Another wave of the not-so-distant future is motion technology, which expands on the sort of capabilities you see in today’s Kinect apps for Xbox 360 and applies it to just about anything. It’s 3D interaction without even touching a device. From what I can see in the industry, it won’t be long before motion technology is part of our everyday lives.

But Back to Today

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Consumers already have a variety of mobile devices to choose from, and manufacturers are working quickly to deliver even more feature-rich products to market. But, just as twirling or “flaming” icons in an online ad don’t always result in more clicks, flashy new hardware and software doesn’t necessarily hit the mark for consumers. Consumers are increasingly aware of the need for a complete ecosystem of services, and I predict that providers who offer comprehensive services (such as Google, Amazon, and Apple) will receive more attention and better sales in the next few years as that awareness grows.

Later this month, consumers will have a chance to get their hands on Apple iOS 7, which is a giant leap forward in terms of major iOS releases. Apple is working to make iOS 7 devices more appealing to corporate users and organizations with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs in place through features such as:

  • Activation Lock, which prohibits a stolen device from being activated without the proper Apple ID accreditation
  • Application VPN, in which individual apps can establish a corporate VPN connection
  • Extended Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) features
  • Open In control, which dictates the apps that workers can use to open and share documents and attachments
  • Security updates to safeguard against non-trustworthy chargers and batteries

Of course, a few features, such as AirDrop for iOS (which makes it possible for users to share anything from any app using WiFi and Bluetooth), may be problematic for corporations that need to keep tight controls on their data. The jury is still out on whether AirDrop and other potentially troublesome features can be disabled through mobile device management. Stay tuned.

As I mentioned above, the coolest device isn’t necessarily the “must-have” device anymore. That’s certainly what I’ve seen with the Moto X and Samsung Galaxy S4, so I’m keeping watch on both of these products to see if there’s an uptick in consumer interest. And, as always, manufacturers are planning releases for the holiday shopping season, so keep your eyes open for new low-cost Android tablets, more Samsung devices (even wearables!), and an Apple announcement about two new models. It should also be noted that Android OEMs are coming up to speed with “kill switches,” similar to the Apple Activation Lock feature, as anti-theft mechanisms in their new devices—that’s good news all around for consumers.

Keeping up with the endless device launches can be daunting—savvy organizations turn to Enterprise Mobile to find the best devices to keep their employees happy and productive.

images via: Collider, Techcrates