2013 Prediction: BYOD on the Decline?

BYOD cost savings and greater worker productivity are myths, says one researcher. BYOD will get a reality check in 2013.

Nearly everyone assumes that the "Bring Your Own Device" trend will heat up next year—that is, everyone except Nucleus Research. Nucleus just put out a research note with this stunning prediction: BYOD will decline as enterprise mobility grows up.

The thinking goes that BYOD was in the height of the hype cycle this year, and it's due for a reality check next year.

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With BYOD, CIOs salivate at the idea of employees shouldering the cost of smartphones and, to a lesser degree, tablets. Employees are also largely responsible for supporting their personally owned devices. BYOD promises to make employees more productive by merging personal and work lives into a single device—an idea that appeals to Millenials.

Large companies such as Ingram Micro, Cisco and VMware went "all-in" with BYOD smartphone mandates. VMWare expects to save seven figures this year through its BYOD program. Cisco even believes BYOD can help repair the rocky relationship between business and IT.

In direct contrast to Nucleus, Gartner predicts BYOD will become the top technology trend for 2013, with mobile devices surpassing PCs as the most common Web access tool. The consumer-driven iPad is pouring into the enterprise at breakneck speeds, says Forrester Research, with 81 percent of firms having tablet plans and 250 million tablets expected to be in employees hands by 2016.

But are these BYOD benefits real? Nucleus doesn't think so.

"The reality is that the support costs, compliance risks, and usage reimbursement typically lead to a higher total cost of ownership with no discernible return on investment or productivity gains," Nucleus says. "As enterprise CFOs take a closer look at the true pros and cons of BYOD in 2013, they will seek to pursue the most fiscally responsible option: corporate-based accounts."

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Nucleus may be on to something. Concerns about BYOD's cost savings cropped up last spring when Aberdeen Group released a widely criticized report, which found that a company with 1,000 BYOD smartphones spends an extra $170,000 per year, on average.

Aberdeen cites one of BYOD's big hidden costs: processing all those additional expense reports.

Another reason BYOD may stumble next year is that the cost of ownership for company-owned PCs is going down. Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes predicts that the PC replacement cycle will be a year or two longer a few years from now.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

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