Why buy the cow?

by Brian Katz on July 12, 2012 · 2 comments

Anytime anyone refers to bring your own device (BYOD) today, the biggest argument in favor of it is that people are more productive when they bring their own device. Now, let’s be clear here, it’s not a function of a BYOD program that is driving these benefits but the fact that a company has added a mobile component to their strategy. By conservative numbers, companies are seeing on average at least $3200 of increased productivity a year from each person that they have enabled.

The way these numbers have been reached is by looking at how much extra time people are putting into work, and yes it is extra time, and then totaling the increase in output that is being gained from these people. Most studies are showing that workers who have been mobile enabled are working at least an extra hour a day and on average are actually working an extra 7 hours a week. At the same time, we are seeing surveys that show people are having trouble disconnecting from work when the go on vacation with a whopping 52% saying they are doing some work while away.

Now I, for one, am a victim of this. My cell phone is always with me and I am responding to messages throughout the evening and on the weekend. It has led to games where everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table and the first one to pick it up before the meal is over has to pay for the meal. This isn’t a new phenomenon either. We have been hearing for years about crackberry addicts who can’t put their phone down, BlackBerry Thumb disorder for those who get carpal tunnel like symptoms in their thumbs, and now there are studies that talk about phantom vibrations, you feel your phone vibrate and it might not even be in your pocket.

I have to say that I don’t think this is necessarily a good trend. We have blurred our personal and work lives to the point where we don’t spend enough time on downtime and we miss out on family things that we shouldn’t. I have to admire the French and their part of the culture that says work life and personal life must be separate. You don’t take your work home with you. It’s one of the reasons that BYOD doesn’t do well there and most people carry 2 phones, corporate and personal, they turn the corporate one off when they leave for the day. They concentrate on living a full and vibrant personal life.

Let’s go back to the original premise here though. We see companies trying to figure out whether to go mobile and they haven’t figured out they it’s a full proof method of getting work for free. If your boss came to you and said that he wasn’t going to give you any more money but he wanted you to work Saturdays from now on, would you do it? Little secret, you already are. Those 8 hours of extra time connected are already a Saturday. If you become addicted you will be giving up Sunday as well.

Next time a company tells you that they can’t afford a program to go mobile, explain to them that they will make money not lose money. In reality, the excuse for savings that leads to BYOD programs shouldn’t exist at large companies because the increase in output (notice I avoided the P word) will more than pay for the device with about $3000 left over per person (if you just pay for the device, $2000 to $2400 if you pay the mobile plan too). This can ease some of the security concerns and other issues around going BYOD if it matters to you.

It’s amazing that we have arguments over who should pay for a device or a bill in a large enterprise when these numbers hold up time and again. If you’re a company that can’t figure out why to go mobile and your stuck crunching the numbers on the COPE  (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled) vs. BYOD, just remember, your workers are willing to work for you for free for a whole entire day.  Why buy the cow when you can already drink the milk for free.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rafal Los July 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Brian – this is about the sanest argument I’ve heard in favor of the promise of more productivity. I still think that the risks are something to be closely monitored and evaluated – and could still outweigh the benefits.

That’s just me though.


Kevin Grove July 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

My take is that if I can get BYOD it reduces the devices I have to carry. Being in IT I am on call 24/7 anyway —- PLEASE don’t shackle me to another device as well.


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