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Does BYOD Cost Too Much?

Tom Kaneshige | Feb. 21, 2013
It's a good bet you don't know how much your company is spending on all those "Bring Your Own Device" smartphones and tablets. Even worse, it's probably too much, says a mobility management expert.

Are you saving money with "Bring Your Own Device" smartphones?

The question has many CIOs stumped. Tech analysts, too, have taken opposing views, with one firm predicting hidden costs will derail BYOD this year. Companies such as VMware claim millions in BYOD savings, while mobile consultants and management vendors describe alarming losses.

"It's the moving target of mobility budgets," says CEO Bzur Haun of Visage Mobile, a Software-as-a-Service provider shedding light on employee-paid and company-paid mobile expenses.

There's no question that BYOD is changing the face of IT. A new report from Forrester found that at least a quarter of a billion global information workers already practice BYOD in some form. Echoing Forrester's report, a recent Cisco survey found that nine out of 10 IT departments enable BYOD in some form.

The shift from company-owned smartphones to BYOD, where employees often own the mobile devices and receive a monthly stipend to cover business-related costs, has made it difficult to track mobile spend-once the sole purview of the CIO. According to a MobileIron-iPass joint study, a little less than half of IT departments managed the mobile budget in 2012, down from 53 percent in 2011.

Today, Visage Mobile and travel expense management software vendor Concur unveiled a new feature that helps companies get a better handle on an employee's mobile expenses. The feature basically automates expense reporting into Visage Mobile's mobile expense management system. sat down with Haun to get his views on the difficulty of corralling enterprise mobility costs, especially in BYOD scenarios.

Aberdeen Group believes many companies are losing money with BYOD. Are you seeing this, too?

My position is that BYOD is a bit elastic.

A lot of people pushed to have BYOD but are just now starting to understand the expense involved, as well as how much leverage gets lost.

Enterprises have a large amount of mobility spend in the CIO organization, but it's migrating to finance and other departments. Consequently, it's difficult to understand exactly how much you're spending.

With our model, you have the ability to see all aspects of mobility spend, including those that are charged back by employees and potentially submitted via expense reports, as well as those gigantic AT&T, Verizon and Sprint bills that companies have been paying for years.

When you provided visibility into the spend, what were some of the revelations?

We see shocking things.

During the Haiti earthquake a couple of years ago, we watched an admin at a company spend $3,000 in Haiti relief on the company dime via text message. You might recall American Red Cross saying that if you enter 9099 on your cell phone, it'll send a $10 donation in charitable giving via your cell bill. In the case of the admin, the employee paid for the device and the company paid the bill. The admin sent 300 messages.


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