By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated May 28, 2013.
What are the financial benefits of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend? A new study from Cisco finds that companies can save as much as $3,150 (U.S.) per employee, per year, but careful mobile device management (MDM) is key.
The report, released last week by Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group, showed about half of the potential savings coming from costs being shifted to employees, and half because of increased productivity. The report surveyed 2,415 mobile users in six countries -- the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, China, Germany, and India.
With a full-scale or "Comprehensive BYOD" effort, the report said, employees will spend an average of $965 on their devices, plus another $734 in annual data plans. Time saved per week varied by country, from a low of four minutes in Germany to a high of 81 minutes for U.S. workers. The average gain in weekly productivity was 37 minutes.
89 Percent Allow BYOD
The dollar amount for productivity gain was based on how much each of those workers was paid per minute. With an average salary of $45,000 per year, the time saved represented about $75 for the German worker and about $1,518 for the American.
The Bring-Your-Own-Device trend has become a widespread part of corporate life, with 89 percent of organizations allowing employees to use their own devices for work. Currently, there are about 198 million BYOD devices in the countries surveyed, a number which Cisco said is expected to grow to 405 million within three years. Most of the BYOD devices were smartphones, as opposed to tablets and laptop PCs. Employees own an average of 1.7 devices.
Cisco said the current median level of BYOD implementation, which it calls Basic BYOD, generates an average $350 of savings per year, per employee in the U.S. The report envisions an 'ideal' quantity of employees bringing their own devices to use at work, which it calls Comprehensive BYOD.
It is in the U.S. that Comprehensive BYOD yields as much as $3,150 in total savings to companies. By comparison, basic BYOD in the U.K. offers $400 in savings, while Comprehensive BYOD can save up to $2,250. However, Cisco said, the average company today is only about 21 percent along the route to Comprehensive BYOD.
'Warp Speed' Move to BYOD
To reach a Comprehensive BYOD approach, Cisco recommends several key steps. They include (1) implementing a scaled architecture that turns any device into a trusted device, (2) the establishment of clear policies, (3) simplification of the process of getting and using mobile apps, and (4) a support mechanism that includes a social community helping each other.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp, pointed out that "many firms don't reimburse employees fully" for their costs for hardware, software or data plans.
One note of caution to managers and C-Suite executives: partial reimbursement, or more specifically not reimbursing employees fully for their expenses, could be creating a future liability if employees later decide to go after their employers to recover additional out-of-pocket expenses. (Perhaps a class action lawsuit waiting to happen?)
DiDio also said that the movement to Bring Your Own Device, which was "already turbo-charged," could start to move at "warp speed" because of the savings demonstrated in this report. She noted a Gartner study that projected half of all companies in the U.S. will require employees to provide their own devices by 2017.
DiDio added that dual persona mobile management, where there are separate workspaces or even separate OSs on the same device to separate personal and work apps/data, is likely to become a more common solution to the security and control issue.