How Much IT Support does BYOD really need?
Nigel Hawthorn | July 19, 2012
We are often asked about the likely IT support costs of rolling out mobile IT and specifically BYOD programs. We have seen predictions of both increases and decreases in overall IT costs compared to a fixed corporate (often RIM) installation, especially help desk support. Of course, there isn’t one answer that will be the same for every installation, so here’s the experience we’ve seen with some of our customers over the last few years.
The costs and staff (Full Time Equivalent – FTE) required to manage mobile devices will depend on what the users are doing with the devices, how self-sufficient those users are, how risk averse (or tolerant) the company is, and how extensive they leverage some of the advanced capabilities (Certificates, Apps, VPN, etc.) on the devices. For many BYOD deployments, these companies have seen overall IT costs go down because the end-user handles much of the device administration on their own, freeing up the help desk to focus on other end-user needs. More advanced BYOD deployments can see a variety of results, depending on the organization and the overall maturity of the BYOD program that is being introduced.
• If you are setting up email, passcode, and wi-fi configs only on a single OS, then you are probably able to handle more than 10,000 devices per person because once that is set up, there is little if any management required after the initial device registration.
• If you are delivering a full-service BYOD program rollout with email communication, end-user training, certificates, apps, complex group/role-based access, on multi-OS platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone), etc. then the number of devices per IT FTE will likely come down to something below 5,000 devices per person, but again that will level off after the initial program rollout and device enrollment is completed.
What we hear from our customers is that during the rollout phases, the teams need resources to help make everything happen, and in many cases that could be teams ranging from 2-5 people (full or part-time) across different parts of the organisation (networking/IT, security, privacy, legal, business unit analysts), but then after the rollout is done, the ‘operational requirements’ for the ongoing management can be 5-10K devices per administrator.
MobileIron’s design philosophy has always been to help users and management achieve the best results as soon as possible, our sophisticated self-registration using MyPhone@Work reduces the burden on IT support staff compared to other Mobile Device Management systems.
The other variable to consider is the impact to the corporate IT Helpdesk, but I think in the case of BYOD, we often see the calls and burden on the Helpdesk to go down, as many employees will be more self-sufficient (or share experiences with each other to deliver peer-support) with their personal device than they might be with a corporate-owned and delivered product.
Of course, the more up-front planning the better. Our experience shows that companies that take a thoughtful and well-defined approach to BYOD programs will achieve better and faster results with lower overall IT costs, than those companies that assume their BYOD programs will simply replace an existing corporate program, and fail to recognize the differences in delivering such a program to end users.