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Why buy? 4 benefits of providing phones for your employees

Most business decisions come down to numbers, but for smaller businesses, the most important number is cash on hand. To ensure they have the cash they need to operate, smart business leaders are constantly making compromises.

When a small business decides to spend money, it has to be absolutely necessary. As a result, many businesses allow employees to use their own smartphones for company work. But at the same time, these businesses often also provide employees with laptops or desktops.

It’s time to rethink the assumptions that brought us here.

A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach may sound convenient, but even a minimal investment in business-owned mobility buys a lot. According to a Frost & Sullivan study, smartphone usage increases mobile employee productivity by 34 percent. Workforces that use mobile devices are also better prepared to engage with customers because smartphones can support almost any business app. And as a company shifts its emphasis to mobile on a single platform, IT gains more efficient control over devices and apps.

Given that the average unsubsidized device costs at least $500 and the average annual salary of a U.S. worker is roughly $50,000, the cost of a mobile device is equivalent to one worker hour per month, assuming the device is used for two years.

If you’re still on the fence, here are four reasons it pays to buy smartphones for your employees:

1. BYOD is rarely a major money saver

When employees are already using their own phones for business, it may seem counterintuitive to step in and buy phones for them. But an Oxford Economics study found that the total cost of ownership (TCO) for businesses is $909 per company-owned device (inclusive of data charges). The same study found that the average monthly stipend paid to a BYOD user is $36, and businesses can incur many more hidden costs in a BYOD environment. Compared to PCs or laptops, which have been found to cost companies $6,685 to $9,595 per year when IT overheads are factored in, company-owned smartphones are a bargain.

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The only instances in the study where BYOD policies yielded meaningful savings were workplaces where mobile device use for work was entirely optional and involved little more than checking email. If your employees need to do anything more, you’ll end up with inefficient help desk services for the diverse range of phones and apps your workers bring with them. BYOD may be free at first, but time-consuming frustration is a distraction you don’t need.

2. Name a need and a smartphone will meet it

Smartphones are now as powerful as many traditional PCs — and more secure. At this point, almost all computer applications have comparable mobile versions. Many business software companies (such as Salesforce) even have commercially available development environments, allowing companies to create custom apps to suit their needs.

Smartphones are also now fully capable of powering larger screens and other peripherals to create a traditional desktop work environment. With Samsung DeX, a worker can connect their mobile device to a monitor as a computing solution, supporting both mobile and desktop work — and avoiding the need to supply laptops.

The versatility of smartphones can’t be overstated, either. For example, you can now equip field workers operating in tough, industrial environments with rugged smartphones, like Samsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro, which provides military-grade durability. And for business users who don’t require a high-end smartphone, midrange smartphones like the Galaxy A Series are delivering innovative mobile features at an affordable price point.

Organizations may also choose to replace their PCs or laptops with mobile devices. Unless being at a desk is absolutely necessary, your workers will appreciate having the flexibility to work from anywhere. This advantage alone is likely to cover the cost of your smartphone investment.

3. Improved security

Mobile operating systems are developed to be managed and secured in ways that traditional desktop operating systems are not. Each app is protected from interaction with other apps, and the OS can be set to shut down or close off access if a security compromise is detected. Modern mobile device management (MDM) solutions offer this protection based on changes in context, be it your Wi-Fi security, the time of day or workers’ location. With the advanced security features built into Samsung Knox, the device and onboard data are protected all the way down to the hardware.

Comprehensive security requires comprehensive management. An employee’s personal device will never be as manageable or secure as one that you control. BYOD trades security, reliability and manageability for a one-time cost savings. Breaches to privacy or data security can easily cost you your entire business.

4. A chance to head off HR problems

A number of laws and regulations are converging to complicate the stipend issue and make BYOD less attractive. With devices owned and managed by the business, stipends are avoided, and you can manage where and when the devices are used.

It’s the way of the internet-driven world: When employees own the devices, enforcement is a problem. Some apps have known malicious intent, and with the proper tools in hand, you can easily block the devices that are running those apps from connecting to company systems and information. Often, those apps are the sort of thing you wouldn’t want your employer to know about, creating uncomfortable questions about privacy. When the business owns the devices, you avoid these issues entirely.

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Providing mobile access to employees has become essential for most businesses. The real choice comes down to whether you’ll proactively choose and manage the mobile environment, or try to herd cats in a BYOD environment. Almost always, the smarter choice is to buy mobile devices for the employees who need a computing platform and manage them with an MDM solution to give you visibility, increased security and true privacy.

If an upfront investment in mobility is a barrier for your business, you can rest assured that mobility doesn’t have to break the bank. With budgeting solutions like Samsung Business Financing, you can enjoy best-in-class technology and get up and running fast — without having to worry about slow approval or additional fees.

Whatever your approach to mobility at your business, you’ll need a robust MDM solution to manage and secure your phones. Read our free beginner’s guide to MDM to learn the ropes. And explore exclusive business pricing, financing and trade-in options and other deals on everything from phones and tablets to monitors and memory.

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Jim Haviland

Jim Haviland is a partner in Impact Architects, where he helps entrepreneurs develop their businesses and connect with more customers. Educated as an electrical engineer, he has enjoyed successful endeavors in satellite instrumentation, media production, e-commerce, business consulting and enterprise technology.

View more posts by Jim Haviland