Does BYOD bring IT cost savings?
By Carol Ko 15-May-2012
BYOD, short for Bring-Your-Own-Device, is gaining wide popularity in Asia-Pacific workplaces with more employees work on the go and mobile devices get constant upgrade in functionality.
According to a VMware spokesperson, cloud computing presents a great opportunity for companies to mitigate the challenges [of device management] and still allow freedom of choice. By virtualizing server infrastructure and desktops, moving applications to the cloud and offering cloud-based services, will help address these challenges.
Like cloud computing, BYOD is most valued for shifting capex to opex -- as companies no longer own the devices but have IT support in place to aid their use. On the cost equation, are companies actually making savings on IT? Or are they unknowingly adding to the cost of ensuring security and compatibility with enterprise software? How much truth is there in this proposition -- "BYOD saves IT costs?"
APAC BYOD usage
In early February 2012, Aruba Networks conducted a survey on more than 1,200 IT professionals in the Asia Pacific over the adoption of self-owned devices at work.
"Gartner does not see cost savings from BYOD."
-- Song Chuang, research director, Gartner
Respondents of the survey included IT and network engineers, IT managers and directors, and IT support and operations from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the ASEAN.
A majority of the responding organizations have adopted BYOD in varying degrees, survey results show. Forty-six percent allow employees to bring their own devices to work with full or limited access to corporate applications, and 26% allow BYOD but limit the use to Internet access. As for organizations that said "No" to BYOD, they either had security concerns (25%), or were not considering BYOD in the immediate present (6%).
Platform-wise, Android (63%) and Apple iOS (54%) are apparently the most popular platforms on the respondents' smartphones and tablets, with Windows Mobile accounting for just 14% and Blackberry nine percent.
As for web-based applications, communication and business/social networking are the two most common types. Communication applications include web-based free email such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail, live chat such as Skype and MSN, and shared meeting scheduler such as Google Calendar. Business or social networking applications include Linkedin and Facebook, online communities such as Microsoft MSDN, information portals such as CNN.com, CNBCasia.com, search engines like Google and Bing, micro-blogs such as Twitter and SinaBlog, as well as flight and travel info scheduler such as Flight Track Pro.
As CIOs plan their IT budgets, they should note that BYOD does not limit to the use of self-owned devices, but also company-subsidized ones. According to the Aruba BYOD survey, 20% of the responding organizations provide end users credit to purchase their own smartphones or tablets, and 13% provide end users credit to purchase just their own laptops. This contrasts with the majority of the companies which retains device ownership, with 47% that distributes laptops to end users, and 27% that distributes smartphones or tablets to end users. Where BYOD is adopted, organizations will no longer take care of licensing fees, device maintenance and repair charges, and hardware depreciation costs.
Albeit an increased BYOD adoption across the APAC, analysts suggest that CIOs should not readily expect huge cost savings from reduced hardware expenses. Song Chuang, research director of Gartner in the mobile and client computing group, recently discussed the issues with Asia Cloud Forum.
Asia Cloud Forum: What are the cost savings from BYOD?
Song Chuang: Gartner does not see cost savings from BYOD. Cost is not destroyed, as the perceived savings are wiped out by support overheads, and loss of enterprise discounts, etc. Hard numbers require clear scenarios -- what are the mobile platforms, what apps for each platform, what level of support for each platform, how much security and process is needed for the clients environment, what level of device or service discounts are still possible, etc.