Why BYOD?

This is my seventh post on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initatives. I have explored a number of issues about how you you can do it, and what you can do, but I haven’t yet talked about why you might be looking at BYOD. There are several reasons why an organisation might want to explore BYOD. Understanding the drivers behind your organisation’s BYOD initiative is the key to delivering a successful one.

From my personal experience, and looking at the literature, there are four main drivers that are likely to underpin any organisation’s desire to implement BYOD. These are not mutually exclusive, and often more than one may be involved, though typically one will be the primary driver. They are:

  1. To reduce cost – taking advantage of employee purchased devices and voice/data plans, rather than the organisation having to pay for them. Also, for organisations with a significant proportion of contractors or consultatns the organisation may be able to allow them to use their own devices, rather than having to supply them.
  2. To improve an organisation’s productivity and innovation by allowing employees to use tools that they prefer, are familiar with and tools that allow them to get the most from IT.
  3. To respond to demand by employees, especially senior executives or board members.
  4. To address all of the security risks that most organisations already face because their employees are already bringing their own devices and using their own tools in an unmanaged and unsecured fashion.

In my opinion, the last reason should be high on the list of priorities for most organisations. In effect if you don’t offer a BYOD service , most organisations are operating with unmanaged or unsecured BYOD in place at the moment – they just don’t know or (more likely) don’t acknowledge it.Implementing a controlled and managed BYOD option is the only way to bring that under control, or at least to reduce the risks that your organisation is already facing.

Whatever the driver, if you are involved in a BYOD initiative, it is important to understand your organisation’s reasons and drivers for examining or adopting BYOD. Different drivers will push you towards different solutions . If your organisation is looking to BYOD to reduce or contain cost, the they will prioritise and evaluate solutions quite differently from an organisation looking to improve experience and productivity, or security.

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5 Responses to “Why BYOD?”

  1. Interesting discussion Doug. I think you are right in asserting that it depends on the circumstances.

    In terms of cost a corporate plan often gets far better rates than having individual employees expense their private costs. In many cases employees are given a flat rate plan and with roaming too. And it is usually bundled with one of the latest handsets which reduces the incentive to BYOD for reasons of access to technology. What’s more the handset is upgraded when the plan rolls over. A corporate plan offers intangible benefits for the company by improving internal communications and keeping employees connected to the office because they are encouraged to use it. And employees gain access to a calling plan that they would otherwise not be able to obtain as a private individual.

    One caveat is that a company phone without a flat rate plan must come with a lot of usage restrictions, and consequently monitoring and policy enforcement is required to restrict non-business usage. This is where I think BYOD is preferable, especially in terms of protecting employee privacy.

    A caveat with flat rate corporate plans is that it becomes a taxable fringe benefit for employees in certain tax regimes and the amount may be non-negligible. The value of this benefit is an arbitrary amount as it is difficult for the tax authorities to determine the taxable benefit from the split of professional/private usage. Further it may be unjust to apply this inferred split and usage as a general rule across all employees on the corporate plan.

    To make it economically feasible for the MNO the corporate flat-rate plan may need to be prepaid for its entire duration. For some companies this lump sum payment may be prohibitive and perceived as being uneconomical. However this initial bill shock is a reliable predictable amount and it eliminates the possibility of bill shock in future and the account reconciliation headaches that ensue.

    • Thanks fr the comment Steve – if you look at my other posts, you can see that I have made esxactly your point about tax obligations. However there are still situations where the cost equation can work out well for both parties, e.g. when the minimum rate to use a mobile is high enough, but usage is low…

  2. I find interesting the mix of top-down (business interest) and bottom-up (user driven) rationales here. Not sure you often find that mix both in favor of executing a strategy.

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