Hidden Costs of BYOD and Mobile Workforce

Greg Wheeler
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Cloud applications, smartphones, and other technology tools have made it easier for employers to move toward the idea of a mobile workforce. As a result, many companies have bring your own device policies to guide employees in achieving greater productivity and better work-life balance. Although building a mobile workforce has many benefits for both employers and employees, there are concerns about the hidden costs of allowing employees to use their own computers and mobile devices.

Tom Kaneshige of CIO.com says some employers are questioning the return on investment of their BYOD programs because there are hidden costs of allowing employees to use their own devices on work time. Many companies implemented BYOD programs to offset the significant cost of buying new hardware every few years. Unfortunately, a company with 1,000 mobile devices pays approximately $170,000 per year extra to have a mobile workforce, according to the Aberdeen Group.

One of the biggest hidden costs of having a mobile workforce is paying for applications that have nothing to do with productivity. An infographic from CIO.com shows approximately 10 percent of all corporate downloads are things like celebrity updates and daily horoscopes. Some members of the mobile workforce are even downloading dating apps on their devices, increasing the cost of managing BYOD programs.

If you bring your own device to work, your employer may cover the cost of your wireless plan. It costs $90,936 per month for the average company to pay for wireless service for its employees, according to data gathered by Visage during 2013. This adds up to more than one million dollars per year for a company with around 730 employees and 1.54 devices per employee. When you allow employees to use their own devices, you are also giving up the opportunity to receive volume discounts on wireless service plans. Companies with volume discounts typically spend about $60 per month for voice and data services, but companies with BYOD programs pay an average of $70 per month.

If the members of your mobile workforce file monthly expense reports for the cost of their wireless plans, you have to pay someone to process those reports. The Aberdeen Group says it costs approximately $18 to process just one expense report, increasing the total cost of a BYOD program. When a company buys smartphones or other mobile devices in bulk, it is possible to automate deployment. If you allow employees to use their own devices, someone from IT has to add each phone to the system one at a time. This also increases the cost of using a BYOD program to build a mobile workforce.

BYOD programs have many benefits, but there are also hidden costs to consider. One of the best ways to address these hidden costs is to develop acceptable-use policies and make sure employees adhere to them. Doing this will help you reap the benefits of a mobile workforce while limiting your company's expenses.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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