From The Editor | December 19, 2013

BYOD: More Headache Than Help?

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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I read a lot of headlines about BYOD (bring your own device) benefits and strategies, but — so far — not many of our readers seem to be putting it to work. I thought it would be interesting to explore why that’s the case among the industries we reach. According to a survey we did in October of 2013, 34 percent of our audience has implemented some form of BYOD strategy, but 65 percent say they wouldn’t even consider doing so (at this point).

In our survey, the number one draw for companies using or evaluating BYOD was reported as cost savings. However, an article I read recently on titled "Will BYOD Save You Money? Probably Not," by Maribel Lopez, pointed out that companies often end up paying much more than they'd imagined for a BYOD strategy. In a BYOD scenario, employees expect to be compensated for using their own device for work purposes. According to the article, the average stipend provided to employees was around $85 per month. Having a set stipend is manageable because it's fixed, but the issue with this approach is that usage varies greatly from employee to employee. The article went on to point out that when overages occur the company is likely to bear the brunt of those costs. The idea is that, by the time it's said and done, a BYOD strategy may not save you as much as you think it will.

On top of the cost side of the equation, it's important to think about whether or not BYOD really makes sense for what you're looking to accomplish in the field. Here's what VDC Research had to say about BYOD in our Field Mobility 2014 report: BYOD is typically viewed as a means to enhance employee collaboration or communication, with most organizations leveraging BYOD not looking to deploy sophisticated line-of-business or operational applications on employee-owned devices. Rather, in scenarios where the mobile device is central to supporting the enterprise workflow, and the applications are tightly integrated with back-end systems such as among field service workers in manufacturing or delivery personnel in distribution and logistics, there's a critical need for a more centralized approach to mobile technology deployment.

Security, IT Strain Top BYOD Concerns
The point VDC is making feeds right into the two top concerns our audience stated it has with BYOD: security (63 percent) and strain on IT (45 percent). In a line-of-business application, security is paramount, and IT involvement necessary. There are certainly applications where BYOD can be incredibly valuable. But in many field scenarios, BYOD can muddy the waters and may end up causing you more headache than help.