BYOD: Where the costs are

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Few technology trends have inspired as many misgivings -- and as much misinformation - as BYOD, or "bring your own device." Is the idea of allowing employees to purchase and use their own laptops and mobile devices a security nightmare? A productivity boon? A drain on the service desk? And perhaps the biggest question of all, a cost-savings nirvana?

With conflicting information - and few well-managed implementations of BYOD from which to learn - confusion abounds as to whether BYOD saves money or costs more. In a survey by Xigo, a provider of cloud-based expense management, respondents named cost savings as a top goal for BYOD programs. However, most (67%) said their mobile expenditures had not changed after allowing some form of BYOD, while nearly one-quarter saw them rise. Meanwhile, in a survey by Lieberman Software, most respondents (67%) said BYOD would increase IT and security costs.

"People might think, 'I don't have to buy laptops or tablets anymore, so this is going to save me money,'" says Paul DeBeasi, research vice president at Gartner. But because hardware expenditures are far lower than other hidden costs of BYOD, he says, the question is not whether costs will go down but whether they will rise or stay the same. "BYOD probably will not save you money," DeBeasi says.

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