Are tablets the 'sweet spot' of BYOD policies?

Will tablets become the dominant mobile device used by employees under BYOD policies?

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Credit: Samsung

Tablets, due to size and portability, have become a popular tool for consumers and business users on the go. Will they one day become dominant in BYOD for business users who own a device for both work and play?

According to predictions released by research firm Gartner on Thursday, tablets will become the "sweet spot" for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in the future. The firm expects that through 2017, 90 percent of organizations will come to support "some aspect" of BYOD, and by 2018, there will be twice as many employee-owned devices in the workplace than enterprise-owned tablets.

Despite security concerns that must stem from employee-owned devices, various operating systems and the potential for outdated software or lax personal security becoming a threat to corporate networks, Gartner says that IT departments can support nearly three times more users in tablet BYOD programs than enterprise-owned tablet programs.

In the end, even if security has the potential to suffer, the issue of BYOD comes down to cost savings for companies.

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Federica Troni, research director at Gartner said:

IT leaders can spend half a million dollars to buy and support 1,000 enterprise-owned tablets, while they can support 2,745 user-owned tablets with that same budget. Without a stipend, direct costs of user-owned tablets are 64 percent lower. When organizations have several users who want a tablet as a device of convenience, offering a BYOD option is the best alternative to limit cost and broaden access.

In comparison, enterprise-owned smartphones cost businesses roughly the same as in BYOD reimbursement, and "will only deliver savings when the organization is in a position to pay partial, or do not reimburse or subsidize for voice and data plans," which may not always be acceptable to employees who rely heavily on mobile communication.

Organizations implementing BYOD policies are likely to see their infrastructure investments increase, according to the research firm. A recent survey conducted by Gartner found that mobile device management, general infrastructure expansion and file share and sync were the three major technologies which drove investments in support of BYOD. In addition, BYOD programs can become the catalyst for increased use of technology in other areas, such as desktop virtualization.

However, establishing the right support structure for BYOD remains a challenge for some companies.

"Organizations allowing users to bring their own devices to work will have to redefine the boundaries of IT’s responsibility for end-point devices support," the company states. "Users will also have to accept responsibility for handling a higher number of support issues related with their own device."

Troni added:

A balanced mix of enterprise-owned and user-owned devices with different levels of stipends will be the most effective way of capitalizing the benefits of BYOD programs, both in terms of cost reduction and in terms of level of access to mobile technology.

Read on: In the enterprise