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BYOD is saving serious money for IT

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Savings have been anecdotal for a while, but now Gartner is measuring real dollar savings.

Benefits for the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon have been largely anecdotal, but Gartner is starting to find real, measurable dollar savings for companies that have embraced it.

Gartner analysts discussed the economics of BYOD at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Spain, last month. They found that IT departments can support nearly three times as many users in BYOD tablet programs than company-purchased tablet programs.

"IT leaders can spend half a million dollars to buy and support 1,000 enterprise-owned tablets, while they can support 2,745 user-owned tablets with that same budget," said Federica Troni, research director at Gartner, in a statement.

"Without a stipend, direct costs of user-owned tablets are 64% lower. When organizations have several users who want a tablet as a device of convenience, offering a BYOD option is the best alternative to limit cost and broaden access," she added.

The savings almost all come from acquisition costs. For an enterprise, the cost of supporting an employee-owned iPad is the same as when the company owns the hardware. So the savings aren’t on-going, but come from the up-front purchase costs. Also, savings are achieved when the organization does not reimburse or subsidize for voice and data plans.

In other words, you're now paying the bill your boss used to pay.

Troni went on to say companies need to design BYOD programs around a primary goal, such as user satisfaction, cost reduction, or mobile expansion. In most cases, multiple goals will be unachievable or will conflict with each other.

Organizations supporting BYOD are very likely to see their infrastructure investments increase, she added, and the level of investment is directly proportional to the success and uptake rate of their programs. A recent Gartner survey found that mobile device management (MDM), general infrastructure expansion, and file share and sync were the three major technology investments needed to support BYOD, followed by desktop virtualization and isolation as organizations look for an acceptable level of security and manageability.

Gartner said companies need to find the right level of support for BYOD programs to take advantage of the potential cost savings. Beyond the hardware, companies have to set the appropriate level of reimbursement for voice and data costs.

Despite these challenges, Gartner says 90% of organizations will support some aspect of BYOD by 2017. These programs today have varying degrees of maturity, but the firm predicts that by 2018 there will be twice as many employee-owned devices used for work than enterprise-owned devices.

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