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Pros and Cons of Implementing a Bring Your Own Device Mobile Phone Policy

Business people using mobile phones and laptops, calculating and discussing charts and diagrams for financial report

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a major trend in mobility ownership and Global Market Insights predicts that adoption will grow 15% annually through 2022 (Source).  Companies often look to BYOD as a tool to reduce costs and improve end user experience, but does it really?  In this blog, I will explore the pros and cons of BYOD to help readers choose the right strategy for their business.

Before digging in, I wanted to take a minute to define BYOD.  The definition below from Techopedia effectively summarizes the ownership model.

Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to employees who bring their own computing devices - such as smartphones, laptops and tablet PCs - to work with them and use them in addition to or instead of company-supplied devices.

The key takeaway is that with BYOD employees typically bring their own phones and plans (and in some cases even laptops) while their employer pays them a stipend of a fixed amount to help offset the plan cost.  The employee retains complete ownership of the device and plan, and they are responsible for all support, breakage, security management and upgrades.

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of BYOD in the context of common benefits that companies expect to gain.

Complexity Reduction

Pro: Companies like BYOD because it can reduce some of the complexities of the traditional corporate-owned model.  For example, when a phone breaks or support is needed, the user is responsible for finding resolution to the issue using non-corporate resources like a carrier or a device manufacturer.  In a corporate-owned environment, the corporation is responsible for these services.  Using non-corporate resources can result in cost savings as fewer support personnel/services are required.

Con: While requiring users to rely upon external support resources can save money, it can also impact productivity and efficiency as users may experience lengthy resolution times when trying to address device issues.  In a corporate-owned environment, the company can control SLAs by leveraging internal or third-party support and services resources.  Corporations can also create programs to expedite phone repair and/or replacement to further minimize downtime.

The other challenge to consider is stipend management.  Users typically earn stipends to defray the cost of mobile service.  A corporation will need a consistent method to track stipend eligibility and amount.  The process can get complex as different stipend tiers are created and environments grow.

Cost savings

Pro: The BYOD cost model focuses on a fixed monthly stipend which can simplify the expense management process.  There can be added savings because the corporation typically only subsidizes the phone plan and so the cost of the phone is paid by the user.

Con: In a corporate-owned environment, a company can purchase phones and plans in bulk from the carrier(s) of choice.  These large-scale purchases can result in significant discounts on plans, data usage and devices.  As a result, corporate rates are significantly less than personal rates.  In a BYOD world, a corporation will not benefit from volume discounts as their users are all typically on individual plans.  (Some corporation negotiate BYOD discounts for their end users, but these are typically significantly less than what they could get with a corporate-owned model.)

Empowered end users:

Pro: The number of phone options is increasing rapidly and employees often want to control their device, plan and carrier.  A BYOD model enables users to choose their own wireless experience which can help them feel empowered and engaged.

Con: Mobile devices are used for a range of corporate activities and so it is not uncommon for confidential company information to live on them.  In a corporate-owned environment, a company controls the devices and so can ensure that all mobile devices are configured with a tested version of a given OS, have the right security software installed and are properly configured to meet compliance requirements.  In BYOD, the phone is controlled by the end user and so it is more difficult to enforce security polices and compliance.  In fact, end users may object to intrusive security requirements such as remote wipe and/or remote password reset making it more challenging to enforce these polices.

BYOD introduces a new paradigm to mobile phone ownership.  It brings strong benefits to corporations but is not without challenges.  While some may proclaim, corporate-owned as an outdated model, there is still a business case to be made for this approach as well.  In practice, we see companies adopting both approaches in what we call a hybrid ownership model.  The challenge in the hybrid model is ensuring consistent management for both ownership types.  The Sakon Mobility platform embraces a hybrid approach by providing one management platform for both models.  Best of all, it also allows companies to better understand the costs of the two models and determine the right balance to minimize costs while maximizing employee efficiency and experience.

 

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