With BYOD Backlash, TCO Questions Are Raised

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Operators, MDM vendors, IT services companies, and everyone else in the enterprise mobility ecosystem has been talking about the huge and imminent rise of BYOD for a year or two.
  • In the real world, there appears to be a bit of a backlash, with some companies retrenching and questioning the alleged cost savings that accrue to a BYOD approach.

BYOD and IT consumerization are old news by now, with companies trying to accommodate their employees and save money at the same time.  The positioning of MDM software platforms and (to a lesser extent) TEM services over the last year as panaceas to deal with this ‘troubling’ trend has allowed a large number of companies in the enterprise mobility ecosystem to look gleefully to new revenues among customers that are looking for help in managing the costs and the inherent unmanageability/insecurity of personal devices.

While the trend appears to be here to stay for many businesses, we are hearing increasing rumblings of doubt: CIOs that have tried BYOD and then changed their minds; companies that have calculated the TCO of allowing BYOD and then realized it might cost more (not less) to support employees bringing in diverse and insecure devices that are allowed to access corporate data, even if these employees are paying for the devices and/or data plans themselves.

Some of the leading MDM vendors that position themselves as the best option for safe and sane management of a diverse mobile environment are using the TCO backlash to their advantage.  For example, Boxtone estimates that a company which implements a BYOD program without a way to automate help desk support tasks (likely to rise sharply in a BYOD environment) is likely to lose money on the deal.  The vendor also points out other, often forgotten costs relating to BYOD, such as the loss of centralized carrier billing/bulk purchasing, the cost of processing expense reports, and the cost of additional VPN and WiFi licenses, in addition to the cost of MDM software itself.  By positioning itself not only as an MDM vendor, but also as a highly automated enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider, Boxtone says it can still make BYOD work cost-effectively (but implies that many of its competitors probably cannot).

In any case, as operators continue to add specific programs and services for support of BYOD, they need to have answers for their customers relating to the real costs of consumerization.  Moreover, enterprises that naively seek to save money by getting their employees to shell out the dollars for smartphones and tablets need to look carefully at all of the operational cost factors that go into supporting those devices in the enterprise.

What do you think?

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