The bring your own device (BYOD) movement has brought a lot of benefits to the modern enterprise in the form of improved flexibility, improved morale, and a much easier transition to mobile employees. But with these benefits come a cost. iPass released its quarterly Mobile Workforce Report just yesterday, and revealed how the BYOD movement may be costing companies big bucks.
iPass' Mobile Workforce Report revealed that a lot more employees are using their own smartphones for work, and while this wouldn't seem to be much of a problem, there is a problem in terms of how they choose a mobile network. They ranked, according to the report, the cost of connectivity as the lowest measure they consider before deciding who to sign up with. For those companies that reimburse for work usage of personal phones, this can yield a note of "bill shock", especially if cost controls aren't considered and put in place as part of that overall BYOD plan that lets employees do this in the first place.
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Self-provisioning--the principle of employees using their own phones for work--is up 42 percent from last year, to the point where it represents nearly half--46 percent--of the entire field of smartphones in business. It's got to the point where it ranks only behind wallets and keys in terms of the most important item in employees' lives. While employees overwhelmingly prefer Wi-Fi to mobile networks, the point remains that they're using more data than ever before, and a portion of that ends up on mobile networks and represents potential for much larger bills than expected. In fact, fully half of all workers--exactly 50 percent--report that just finding access to Wi-Fi is a hindrance to their productivity, up from 33 percent calling it a barrier.
iPass' chief executive officer, Evan Kaplan, summarized the issues the study encountered: "With more workers turning to their smartphones for work, data usage is growing rapidly across multiple devices. As this BYOD trend continues to explode, not just in the US but around the world, enterprises are seeing the effects both in rising productivity and in rising network costs. Employees are using more data with more devices to work longer hours, anytime and anywhere — and this report shows they’re willing to connect with little regard for cost. This lack of cost sensitivity has the potential to dramatically impact corporate budgets. In order to gain the business benefits of the proliferation of consumer-driven IT, enterprises must stay in front of the BYOD challenge by providing cost-effective connectivity for mobile workers wherever they roam."
The growing number of BYOD policies in place suggests that companies are looking to take advantage of the many good points on BYOD. Yet such programs need to be not only fully considered before launch, but easily changed prior to their launch so any problems that come up unexpectedly--like bill shock--can be addressed in the earliest stages and addressed quickly. Obviously not every problem can be foreseen; precognition isn't exactly a prerequisite for most jobs, no matter how much anyone would like to make it so. But making flexible policies that can address problems as they arise will be a better long-term strategy than an attempt at a one-size-fits-all policy that doesn't stand up against real-world situations.
BYOD has a lot of room to improve workplaces, but at the same time, it can also do some damage for the unprepared. Being part of the prepared, meanwhile, means the potential damage is much more limited.
Edited by Brooke Neuman