The Bottom Line: How Does BYOD Affect Company Finances?

Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Scott Kraege, a director at MOBI wireless management, a company that combines a centralized web-based portal, ongoing expense management and 24/7 end-user support to help businesses better manage mobile telecom programs.

With mobile devices now ranging from smartphones to tablets to iPads, it's obvious that technology has gotten more personal. Times have changed. The use of personal devices (individually liable or IL) to access corporate applications and data has come to the forefront for many companies managing their employees' mobile telecom programs. Personal devices have become increasingly intertwined with employees' professional lives.

A growing number of companies -- 63% of businesses, according to a recent statistic -- have begun implementing "bring your own device" (BYOD) programs based on the overlap of personal and professional smartphone usage. However, who should use BYOD programs, and how does this transition affect the finances of both the company and employees? Unfortunately, the answer isn't cut and dry, but there are a few things to consider before making the move.

As a CEO-level company representative, business relies on your decisions daily. In and out of meetings regularly means you must also be faithfully glued to your email via a mobile device. If you were unreachable at any time, it's possible that important business decisions are at high risk for going unnoticed. It's recommended that this type of end-user remain on the traditional or corporate liable (CL) program.

Now place yourself in the shoes of the marketing manager. Your daily interactions with sales and marketing staff require you to be readily available throughout the day. However, you also need access to all the latest and great marketing tools (for example, social networks). This might be a user that best fits a BYOD program.

Finally, consider your entry-level staff. To stay up with company updates and new projects, they might need real-time access to email, but the sensitive data potentially on their phone is little to none. If their device went missing, the company would be at little risk of sensitive data falling in the wrong hands --therefore, it's difficult to build a business case to include your device in a CL program.

Whether you're the constantly-wired CTO on your device at all hours or an entry-level staff member checking in on a more intermittent basis, you require some level of access to company data on your mobile device. Businesses have to be smart when determining which employees should transition to a BYOD policy. These are three employee characteristics to consider when figuring out what is best for your company's finances:

  • Role -- Where does this user sit on the organizational chart? How many people does he or she direct on a daily basis?
  • Access -- What level of access to sensitive corporate data does this user have? Do they require access to this data on their mobile device?
  • Timeliness -- How critical is the timelines of this person's response to advance business processes? How readily available should they be while mobile?

Once you can determine who would benefit from a BYOD policy, consider a few significant financial shifts that come with that transition:

  • Reduced IT Hardware -- A BYOD policy allows companies to shift a portion of the cost of mobile devices to the income of their employees and contractors.
  • Reduced Service Costs -- Companies might experience additional savings by reducing IT support and accompanying training costs.
  • Happier Employees, Higher Productivity -- A growing number of corporations believe that the comfort and freedom that comes with working off of one's personal device has potential to lead to happier employees, ultimately resulting in heightened productivity.

For a seamless transition into a BYOD mobile device program, corporate decision makers must consider who would benefit and who would only add a financial burden. There is tremendous value in supporting a number of personal devices without sacrificing security, visibility and money. Considering the role of each employee can help achieve this balance.

-- Scott Kraege, director at MOBI wireless management

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