Is BYOD Cost Effective for Small Businesses?

Today, everyone’s talking about the phenomenon of the consumerization of IT and BYOD. The workplace is undergoing changes at a breakneck speed. Encouraged by our expectations of evolution and revolution in consumer technologies, today’s workers hope to use the same smartphone, tablet, email account or social networks in the office as they use at home.

Good Technology, in its second annual customer survey in adopting and supporting BYOD trends, found that for about a year, more and more companies have been busy fitting their own devices to support employees in their corporate network — and to control it. More than 72 percent of respondents were already formally supporting BYOD programs compared to 60 percent in January 2011.

It’s big business that seems to be shelling out for BYOD programs, but what about the little guys?  Can a BYOD program fit with SMB objectives, and is it cost effective in today’s era of mobility and increased productivity expectations?

Larger enterprises take to BYOD

Larger enterprises with 2,000 or more employees are the most active in adopting and supporting BYOD.  Seventy-five percent of companies that support BYOD employ 2,000 or more employees, and 46 percent of 10,000 or more employees.

Security concerns and compliance regulations are not hindering the BYOD triumph. The financial services, insurance and healthcare industries are still among the most active sectors in terms of BYOD.  This year’s report also shows an increase in the introduction of BYOD in government agencies.

The report notes that the consumerization of IT is forcing enterprise IT departments to develop policies for regulating the use and security levels of company information being accessed by employees’ personal devices. IT departments supporting BYOD policies tended to be large‐to‐very‐large enterprises.  On average, 35 percent had more than 10,000 employees, nearly 60 percent had more than 5,000 employees, and 81 percent had more than 2,000 employees.

“When [we] see the overall group supporting BYOD picking up and the naysayer group getting halved, what that tells us is that this is inevitable. The number supporting BYOD is going to jump to 100 percent over the next few years,” predicted John Herrema, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Good Technology.

BYOD to fuel enterprise spending

Good Technology’s survey found that enterprises in more countries are now supporting BYOD.  Dell, in its Global BYOD survey results, found that approximately 70 percent of companies believe BYOD can improve their work processes.  Companies that embrace a user-focused approach to BYOD may reap the biggest rewards, face the fewest obstacles and deliver real and immediate value in terms of greater efficiency, productivity and a competitive advantage.

But the widespread use of mobile devices at work will actually fuel enterprise investment. Half of the companies that Good Technology surveyed with BYOD policies in place said that employees are actually covering all costs, including device and data plans, associated with their personal devices.

Nearly 50 percent of companies supporting BYOD require that all costs be covered by employees who are more than willing to take their employees up on the offer. The other 50 percent provide a mix of options to their employees, such as a stipend or expense options, to help subsidize the cost of their mobile device or service plan.

Good Technology said this expense and cap model offers tremendous cost-savings for companies that switch from a company-owned device model, which can cost on average $60-100 per device, per month.

In addition to the BYOD phenomenon, data recovery firm Kroll Ontrack predicted an increase in the use of SSDs within laptops and PCs, as well as more external hard disk drives. This trend introduced new areas of risk to businesses and will pose data recovery challenges, fueling enterprise investment in data recovery tools.

SMBs feel more stress

Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will increase by 4.2 percent this year. According to a recent survey by Spiceworks, small businesses are planning to increase their IT budgets in early 2013 by about 15 percent, including investment in new technologies such as tablet devices, smartphones, cloud services and virtualization.

While this level of spending is significant, it translates into bigger headaches for IT as more and more devices are getting into the hands of users. While SMB interest in mobile devices and BYOD is expected to remain strong, 13% of SMBs said they are eliminating discretionary spending, according to new information out from Manta.

Small and midsize businesses simply can’t afford mistakes. With the upsurge of implementing BYOD and cloud services, it is smart to spend money on the latest technologies to accomplish these goals. This can be particularly useful for SMBs, which traditionally have smaller IT budgets than big corporations, regardless of spending increases.