Report: BYOD is driving up IT costs

BYOD programs are being adopted at companies in all industries. How will that impact those organizations’ IT costs?

Are BYOD programs a good idea for businesses? The question may not matter, as many experts warn that IT consumerization and the flood of personal mobile devices into the workplace are inevitable, anyway.

Even so, some companies are reporting that BYOD has helped them decrease the money they spend on cellular service as users are often footing the bill to use their own phones.

However, the increased difficulty of managing all those personal devices is going to drive up IT costs, according to a recent report from Osterman Research.

BYOD can benefit the IT budget in some areas. For example, Osterman found that budgets for mobile message initiatives were expected to increase by just under 10% on average in 2012. That’s significantly less than the increase from the year before, since more users are working with their own smartphones and therefore covering those costs on their own.

However, the overall costs of managing smartphones and other mobile devices are increasing as BYOD becomes more common. For example, as more personal smartphones enter the corporate network and the diversity of devices increases, the resources required to manage those devices has increased, even without taking into account the number of devices.

Osterman estimates that 2.9 full-time IT employees per 1,000 mobile devices were required in 2011. This year, that number increased to 3.6 and will reach 4 by next year — a 48% increase.

BYOD increasing other IT costs

In addition to managing the devices brought in via BYOD programs, the costs of implementing new security measures and improving network capabilities will increase costs for businesses, according to a recent survey from British service provider Damovo UK. In fact, the costs are expected to be great enough that 73% of IT directors admitted that they fear BYOD costs will “spiral out of control.”

That doesn’t mean BYOD programs don’t benefit businesses — allowing employees to bring in their own personal devices can help improve efficiency and morale. And, as many experts point out, employees are going to use personal devices at work no matter what IT says.

To cope with the increased costs of BYOD, Osterman recommends businesses invest in robust mobile device management (MDM) software. Cloud-based MDM systems are becoming especially popular because of their reduced and predictable costs and lack of a need for in-house IT staff to manage the software.

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