One reason enterprises are readily accepting BYOD is they see an opportunity to reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of computing equipment. The thinking goes that if employees pay for their laptops, tablets, and smartphones themselves instead of using company equipment, the company saves a bundle in TCO. Of course that is not as straight forward as it may appear because the initial purchase cost of a piece of equipment is often only a small fraction of the TCO.

Nevertheless, BYOD does eliminate a large item from capital expenditures. Cloud also promises to reduce capital expenditure by shifting capital equipment purchases to operational cloud service fees. That is a true benefit, but it is still a paper transaction. Unlike cloud, BYOD capital savings is real money that will never have to be spent, not a shift from a capital column to an operational column. Operational expenses are generally easier to manage than capital expenses, but no expense is easiest of all.

And it gets better. If an employee dumps a can of coke on his company laptop at lunch, the company usually ends up paying for a replacement, but when the laptop belongs to the employee, the employee buys a replacement. The service desk and the IT department will not burn hours trying to revive the dead soldier and the IT department probably will not be responsible for reimaging a hard drive and restoring backups.

Put another way, traditional break/fix service is not the same in a BYOD environment, and service desks may someday completely drop that aspect of support. But hold it! A fellow employee in the office once inadvertently bumped over cup of coffee on my laptop. As I remember it, my productivity zeroed out for a few hours while IT services delivered a loaner to me and acquisitions expedited a replacement. If I had owned it and had to replace it myself, I would have been out of commission for at least a day while I shopped around for a good buy on a new laptop and worked on restoring the system as best I could. Not only that, I would have been a pretty grumpy employee, who might even think the company owed me for placing me in a laptop-destroying environment.

This leads to a question: what kind of enterprise support is needed in the BYOD age? What are the legitimate limits? A major clue comes from the way these devices are supported outside the enterprise now. We all know that iPhone and Android apps are supported differently than traditional software. Do service desks need to take a lesson from the app stores? I think so. I’ll talk about this more in a future post.

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