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Managing BYOD expenses: How to get it right

Nancy Gohring | Nov. 13, 2014
Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of all employers will require workers to supply their own devices for work; yet there are mixed reports about whether BYOD actually saves businesses money.

Intel is on the leading edge in terms of keeping workers on centrally negotiated mobile plans. Companies are just starting to work with operators to get better deals for employees on BYOD plans, says Forrester analyst David Johnson. "But it's early on and many are still just doing expense reimbursement," he explains.

Overall though, Intel didn't implement BYOD as a way to cut costs. "It's not something we view as a cost savings but a productivity adder," Spelman says.

Other cost-cutting techniques

Another way that some businesses have cut back on the cost of BYOD is by dialing back the amount they're willing to reimburse employees. Nowadays, $40 is the average monthly reimbursement that businesses offer employees, says Park. A couple of years ago, $80 was the norm, he says. "When companies started to do BYOD it was to get out of the business of managing devices. But after a couple of years of experience and dealing with expense reports and bills, where the total cost is significantly higher than with corporate-owned devices, they had to cut back," he said.

Also, new services are becoming available to help businesses manage BYOD expensing.

Cass Information Systems, for instance, will handle direct payment of a set reimbursement for workers. Employees see a credit for that reimbursement amount on their cell phone bills each month, with a line showing how much additional they are responsible for. Visage and Concur have a joint offering that lets businesses manage mobile expenses. Tangoe and MindWireless are other companies with products aimed at making it easier to manage BYOD expenses. (None of those vendors could provide customers willing to talk about their experiences using the services.)

Once a business has device management and expense management systems in place, there are likely more challenges to come. When Intel introduced its BYOD program, it got a positive response from employees. But very soon, once workers discovered how productive they could be using their phones to get work done, they began asking for access to more and more applications, Spelman explains. "They love you for a day and then they want more," she says.


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