Ballooning BYOD costs can be tough to control

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Shifting from company-owned smartphones to BYOD--where employees own the phone and the company pays the business-related bill--has made tracking the cost of mobile devices much more difficult. The result can be wildly higher costs instead of hoped-for BYOD savings, says Bzur Haun, CEO of Visage Mobile, a mobile-expense tracking service.

"People are carrying three, four or five different devices when the policy states they can carry one or possibly two," Haun says. "We see unbelievable overages in messaging and outrageous data consumption. 11 percent of the download spend in the enterprise is adult content. That could be anything from Misty Mobile love alerts to sexycougars.com. Companies are spending an average additional 29 cents per cellular line on 411 calls today. One user had $110 on 411 calls in a single month."

Another user donated $3,000 to the Red Cross for Haiti relief by using a donate-$10-by-text function 300 times, all on the company dime.

Many of the abuses stem from a common version of BYOD: The employee pays for the phone and the company pays the bill. One simple approach to limiting that blank-check approach is a stipend--a blanket allowance of, say, $75 per user each month. However, you'll never know if the stipend amount is too much for most users without carefully monitoring phone bills, which pushes up the cost of BYOD.

Another simplifying approach is a BYOD mandate instead of a BYOD option: All company-issued phones must be replaced by employee-owned devices. But that has its own hidden costs. "There are executive teams and sales assets that you don't want to give up control [over]," Haun says. "Who owns the phone number? What happens when a salesperson leaves?"

For more:
- see Tom Kaneshige's article at CIO

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