BYOD: No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

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By David C. Johnson, Joshua Konvisser and Meighan E. O'Reardon

It seems intuitive that, by and large, employees prefer to use their own mobile devices, carrying only a single device for personal and work purposes, and having choice over the device to be used (please don't take away my iPhone). There has also been a hypothesis that there could be cost savings for companies that allow employees to BYOD because of the ability to defer the cost of the devices and service to the employee.

In fact, maintenance of a BYOD program (we have previously reported on legal issues surrounding Bring Your Own Device and the importance of BYOD policies), including the need to manage across non-standard devices and platforms, may actually result in a BYOD program being more costly than having a standard corporate-liable program. Add to those costs a recent California ruling that requires companies to reimburse employees for wireless service. Although the case raised more questions than it answered about what level of reimbursement is required, it seems clear that companies will bear a larger portion of the cost of BYOD programs than they had previously borne.

This is not to say that companies should abandon BYOD or that there is no business case for BYOD. However, the business case analysis now needs to take into account a different, hard cost in balancing the soft benefits of BYOD, which may be harder to quantify.