Does BYOD save money, yes or no?

People love to talk about how bring-your-own-device will impact companies financially. Two common arguments are: BYOD will save companies money because they won't have to pay for phones anymore.

People love to talk about how bring-your-own-device will impact companies financially. Two common arguments are:

  • BYOD will save companies money because they won’t have to pay for phones anymore.
  • BYOD will cost companies money because they’ll have to support all these new devices.

Let’s take a closer look at these two points.

BYOD will save companies money because they won’t have to pay for phones anymore.

The concept is simple. A company might think, “Hey, this BYOD thing is getting popular. Why don’t we just have our employees use their own phones? We’ll save gobs of money!”

The problem is that money to pay for phones still has to come from somewhere, so no money is actually being saved. Instead the cost is merely being shifted onto the employees—and this can backfire.

First of all, it assumes that everybody has a personal phone in addition to their work phone. Certainly there was a period when having a corporate BlackBerry and a personal iPhone seemed pretty common, but today, there are just as many people that use a company-provided phone as their own phone. If these users suddenly have this taken away from them, they’ll just be let with a feeling of “Darn it, there’s another example of our company being cheap!” Even if a company gives their users a stipend to pay for their own phones, they’re still missing out on potential volume discounts.

Employment benefits come and go throughout the years as trends and economic conditions change, and that’s perfectly fine. However, using BYOD as an excuse to take away benefits is misleading.

This goes to show that there are two categories of BYOD: There’s grassroots BYOD, where employees bring in their personal phones, tablets, and computers on their own (this can be informal and under the radar, or it can be formally sanction. Then there’s compulsory BYOD like we just talked about. (Maybe this should be called something other than BYOD?) It’s important to acknowledge the differences.

It will cost money to support personal devices!

Another argument is that users bringing in personal devices will cost money because your company will have to spend time and money upgrading networking infrastructure, implementing enterprise mobility management technology, and supporting multiple platforms and dozens of different types of devices.

The main problem with this concept is that it confuses the question of who owns a device with consumerization and enterprise mobility in general. Some people still associate the issues brought up by iPhones, iPads, and Android with BYOD. BYOD may have caused these issues 4 or 5 years ago, but now these devices are just as likely to be corporate-owned as they are to be personally-owned. The next step is to acknowledge that users will treat their devices exactly the same, no matter who bought them.

You can choose how you want to deal with mobile devices (just use Exchange ActiveSync, use MDM, use MAM, develop your own in-house apps, deploy modern file syncing,  beef up your networking, make a rule that users shouldn’t leak data, or do nothing at all) and whatever you choose is fine. The important thing to remember is that the starting point should be the same, no matter who’s paying for the devices.

Another issue is that people are using the term BYOD in a generic way to refer to the consumerization of IT and enterprise mobility. You can see that it’s important to specify exactly what concept you’re talking about!

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BYO is not only about saving money...

It is about security policy (where you can "control/Allow/deliver to" unknown devices (with a formal or informal BYO policy) and about HR strategy (to match the XYZ next generation tribes behavior).

Saving money ? yes it did in my company where we have a quite nice stipend to get BYO (but only 1/4 of allowed users jumped in)...

IT support problem ? no we didn't, even if we open the 1st line of suport to any user (BYO or not)... Guess what, BYO user have less problem that corporate one (or call less, or figure the solution by themself...)...


I agree with Kata but I would add the following.

BYOD already exists in the vast majority of corporate environments whether there is a support policy or not.  The chances of FUIT are just a helluva lot higher if you don't have a policy and that WILL cost your company a lot of money.  Especially if you have a big need to protect company IP.  

A BYOD policy that focuses on cost is only going to lead to FUIT.  My company has Afaria on our devices but doesn't offer any apps.  Sure, they can wipe my phone remotely but that is about it.  As has been mentioned here many times I can still have a ton of company IP out on dropbox, evernote, etc, etc.  They don't even offer any type of secure email.  

Cost is obviously important but IT should focus on the business drivers that are causing end users to bring devices to work.  What are they doing and how is it beneficial to the companies bottom line.  Build your policies around things that enable end users to do their jobs better and thus push profitability rather than just trying to contain costs.  



Kata and Rick: yes and yes, agree 100%!


Isn't compulsory BYOD what the industry is now calling COPE?

Anyway, bunch of BS. BYOD isn't a policy, and it doesn't save or cost the company more money because it'll happen without the company building a policy around it. The question, then is:

Do you accept the fact that BYOD is something you cannot control or manage?

If no, happy retirement.

If yes, then focus on enabling rather than controlling. If your employees feel you're on their side, and the infrastructure you create is a friendly, productive one, then both sides win.

In other words, you're a plumber. Your job is to make sure the toilets keep working. You can't control what people flush down the toilet (though if you know certain things clog the toilets, you can ask nicely, explain why they shouldn't flush them down the toilet, and hope for the best).


In my conversations with customers I reference the business value IT's contribution to reducing asset depreciation for the organization.  For the enterprise customer it is not uncommon for IT devices to represent some of the very largest asset pools within the organization.  These assets must be depreciated, which in turn reduces the organizations net income, and stockholder equity.  Quick Google search for you,

Beyond depreciation there are additional consideration for the cost of managing each assets depreciation over time.  Every line item reduced from the work of internal audit and control, is a cost saving to the business.  Accounts love cost savings!

Business is not driven by the warm and fuzzy feeling of whatever generation is current, and HR is seeking to please.  It is driven by accounting.  How many of your CIOs report to the CFO?  

If you can't sell BYOD to your respective CFO, you and your project aspirations have a dim future IMHE.


to @Ricks comments, I worked at a government agency that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars keeping track of assets that were largely worthless.  I have not seen any studies but I can assure you that there is a somewhat uniform cost to anything once you assign an asset tag to it.  In addition to having bloated budgets where these assets become an anchor you have the time spent tracking them making sure that they are not lost/stolen.

The problem is that a lot of employees, (sad to say) dont really want to be empowered and they want the company to provide everything.  I personally, favor a stipend then the company is not stuck tracking assets.  While the value depreciates, the cost to track them stays the same or gets higher.

Great point @Rick


thank you for sharing this


BYOD cost more money than IT managed solutions.  I had a lady stop by with a Macbook with OSX 10.4 Tiger, she wants us to configure it to access our VPN and her Macbook does not meet minimum requirements.  Boss says we need to upgrade her to the latest OSX.  He doesn't realize that Apple doesn't support the PowerPC based Macbooks anymore.

We end up telling her to buy a new Macbook or else we can't do anything.  Pissed off user write a letter to our IT director and she ends up getting a new Macbook company paid.