Not a single analyst firm missed the opportunity to list Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or the Consumerization of IT as one of their top predictions of 2012.  That said, most of the focus has been on how wonderful BYOD policies are, as hardware costs get shifted to employees and organizations need only provide a way to access data and applications. 

Early adopters of BYOD, however, tell a slightly different story: one of unexpected costs and the need to maintain a level of IT involvement. 

BYOD Brings Many Challenges

Many employees’ mobile devices are their preferred method of communication, for both work and home.  With BYOD, employees think they can just bring their mobile device or tablet to work and have IT support it—but what they don’t realize is that this often means more than making sure an iPhone can use company email.  IT departments need to protect company data, enable the workforce and manage mobile expenses all at the same time.

Here’s a checklist of policies to have in place/things to remember when rolling-out BYOD:

  • Security Comes First: Strong security protocols need to be in place alongside device usage policies to protect critical company information.   It’s safe to say that employees will need to accept some level of company-sponsored security software on their device.
  • Be Ready to Juggle:  Companies that have rolled BYOD out already have learned that with each new device you add, you also add new data/service plans to the mix and are forced to manage multiple contracts and invoices. 
  • Prepare to Change Your Voice and Data Plans: Research has shown that the majority of employees come nowhere near using their full data plan allotment.  Organizations have traditionally been too generous with mobile voice and data, as 31% of monthly voice plans go unused and only 13% of wireless data cap plans are used. 
  • Your New Skill—MEM:  IT departments have to be much more involved in mobile expense management, or MEM, than ever before.  Steps must be taken to prevent unauthorized charges, hidden expenses and cramming fees.
  • Know the Difference Between TEM and MEM:  In traditional landlines, the majority of savings come from managing inventory, correcting bills and signing up for long-term contracts to save money over several years.  That was telecom expense management (TEM).  In the mobile space, long-term contracts aren’t as important as managing usage, plans and policies.  In fact, the key to success is an active and constant optimization of devices and services to ensure that employees are on the right plans and are not being taken advantage of with charges. 
  • Take Full Advantage of Wi-Fi:  With a greater use of Wi-Fi, most employees could operate perfectly well within 50% of their current data cap.  A 2GB plan that costs, say $40 a month, could become a 1GB plan, costing $20 a month. 
  • Create an Outside the Office Policy:  One of the newest wrinkles in BYOD is needing to account for data plan equality, i.e., making sure that there is consistency in how much data or minutes employees can use.  Battles over why one employee has more texting minutes than another should never happen.

  • Weed Out Abusers: In every office there is an employee that is abusing the system and downloading movies over his phone while working on his desktop.  Without a regular review of data usage, these issues would never be found and costs would remain artificially high.


In order to be successful, CIOs and IT managers have to balance all of the different expenditures involved in BYOD, while at the same time securing company data and making sure to not hurt morale or productivity by preventing personal devices from being used.

As with any new trend, it’s best to learn from the past, cut through the hype and find ways to create a hybrid policy that makes sense within your organization.