Bring your own device (BYOD) isn't just a new, trendy movement. In fact, BYOD has been occurring since smartphones became more accessible to employees. After all, lack of accessibility has costs too, and it wasn't long before companies began to see BYOD as a way to increase productivity, if only for the top executives. Of course, their employees soon found similar ways to increase productivity on their own.

Although BYOD has been around for a few years, company-managed BYOD is still relatively new. As a result, the new era of BYOD involves the realization that adding mobile devices to the IT mix can have real consequences in terms of corporate security. So, as exciting and beneficial as BYOD is as a concept, in implementation companies must find the balance between its cost savings and the need to secure corporate information.

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Plus, when using BYOD in the workplace, many companies fail to account for the expenses incurred, and are shocked to find out how much is really being spent on the program. That's because they fall into the trap of looking at what's being saved, perhaps by having employees purchase their own mobile devices, and overlook what's being spent to make it all happen. Here are four common BYOD costs that companies tend to overlook. (For some background reading on BYOD, check out BYOD: What It Means for IT.)

  1. Time Spent On MDM
    BYOD and mobile device management (MDM) work together, and it’s the CIO’s duty to find the best MDM software to provide control over all the mobile devices owned by employees. Control in the BYOD era means an MDM that provides protection of all devices with pass codes, secures critical company data and, most importantly, remotely wipes all data on the mobile device in cases of loss or theft. (Learn more about Sysaid's mobile device management system here.)

    However, when BYOD is implemented, someone has to monitor and manage mobile device use. Even with MDM software, there still needs to be someone monitoring what information is being accessed, checking security, following up on newly acquired devices, and other important aspects. Depending on the size of the company, this may mean hiring an employee to manage this new sector because it introduces an entirely new duty/responsibility.

    Companies with a dedicated IT department need to ensure that the department has the resources to handle the extra responsibility. The biggest mistake made here is underestimating the amount of time and effort required to do BYOD properly. Time equals money.

  2. Monthly Plans
    In order to provide incentive for employees to opt in to participate in BYOD, companies typically allot a stipend to cover a set amount per month for employees' mobile device bill. What some companies fail to account for is that employees are paying for their phones out of their pockets and are getting the same monthly plans the average Joe gets.

    Most major carriers offer discounts to businesses who open up business accounts with them and sign up for bulk plans. This means that for companies, paying for the monthly phone service may actually be less expensive than providing a reasonable stipend. If companies do use stipends, they could establish the amounts based on the employee’s role.

  3. Help Desk Support
    All mobile devices are not built the same. This is something that companies do not consider with BYOD. When BYOD is introduced into a company, it can create a strain on the IT department or help desk, which then has to work out issues for a multitude of devices instead of just one or two types. This is one of the advantages that company-provided mobile devices can offer, because generally every employee gets the same device or at least one made by the same manufacturer.

    Even though many companies think they are losing money by having to provide support for company provided devices, it is actually more cost effective than BYOD in certain scenarios. Just like with mobile device monitoring, companies might be forced to bring on a new employee that specializes in working with a variety of different mobile devices.

  4. Unused Devices
    One thing that should be carefully considered is which employees are allowed to participate in BYOD. Some companies make the mistake of letting anyone opt in. This can be quite costly because while many employees are intrigued with the idea of BYOD, some will realize that they don’t actually need to use their personal devices for work. The end result is that employees end up getting a subsidy for what essentially becomes a personal device.

    Due to possible privacy concerns, this issue is a bit difficult to track. A company's IT management tool provider may offer detailed tracking as far as what apps are being used on BYOD devices, providing a better picture of who’s using the program legitimately. It’s important to mention what information a company will access on employee devices in the BYOD policy to avoid any privacy issues.

In order to offset or minimize these hidden costs, a well-designed BYOD policy is a necessity. Include terms of use, set a reasonable stipend amount per role, and perhaps outline the extent to which the help desk will provide support. Overall, BYOD can be a hit or miss. However, with effort and careful planning, companies can ensure that costs are minimized.