Tuesday, 04 October 2016 01:08

Are you paying employees too much on BYOD reimbursements? Some US employers are

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Mobile platform and services provider Syntonic says its "first of its kind" and "in-depth" survey has found that US businesses are overspending "more than US$2.6 billion annually on BYOD reimbursements".

Syntonic, which iTWire covered with a video interview featuring two of its US-based founders when it launched on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), has issued the results of an "in-depth, first-of-its-kind enterprise employer survey".

The survey was conducted on Syntonic’s behalf by Information Solutions Group (ISG), and is titled “Syntonic 2016 Employer Report: BYOD Usage in the Enterprise.” 

In the report, Syntonic explains that:

  • Nearly 60% of respondents acknowledged having a formal BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, and of those;
  • A significant percentage (69%) are actively reimbursing employees for work-related usage of their personal smartphone;
  • One of the key drivers for implementing a BYOD policy is to increase productivity (43%); however…
  • respondents went on to express concern over new compliance hurdles and reimbursement overcompensation.

Naturally, Syntonic says it is "encouraged by the market reception to Syntonic DataFlex", the company’s "mobile split billing solution, and the research provides the company with a first mover advantage into employee smartphone trends and capturing the mobile split billing market in the US".

The research notes that "81% of companies are supporting BYOD programmes today or are planning to support them within the next 12 months. This represents an addressable US market for Syntonic DataFlex of more than 100,000 companies with over 75 million employees".

Gary Greenbaum, co-founder and chief executive of Syntonic, said: “This research on BYOD smartphone trends is the first of its kind. BYOD is quickly becoming an established policy in the enterprise with 77% of enterprises expecting smartphone usage at work to increase even further over the next 6 to 12 months, as identified by our survey.

“However, the results also indicate that business leaders are struggling to keep up with both the technical and corporate implications of BYOD. We were surprised by how much is being overpaid in reimbursement costs due to a sheer lack of awareness and pressure to comply with labour laws.

“It’s also clear from the survey that businesses are highly dependent on mobile data but remarkably lack understanding about how mobile data is being used within the enterprise. While there may be a difference of opinion on internal BYOD ownership, the good news is that programme adoption continues to grow.”

Key findings of the survey are as follows:

Compliance concerns lead to over-compensation

Among organisations with a BYOD policy, "more than two-thirds (69%) currently reimburse employees for work-related use of their personal smartphones. When asked about the primary drivers for reimbursement, 36% of employers named compliance as a motivator. Enforcement of labour laws, such as (that formulated after the) Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service (ruling) in California, which require employers to reimburse employees for work-related usage on personal devices, are putting pressure on leadership to implement reimbursement programmes.'

However, the current reimbursement policies are both inefficient and lead to severe overspending, the company says.

  • Roughly half (47%) of companies that reimburse for BYOD pay a fixed monthly stipend, and nearly one-third (29%) require employees to manually calculate reimbursement amounts and submit an expense report.
  • About 45% of CEOs are extremely concerned about the recent ruling in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, which requires companies to reimburse employees for work-related use of their personal smartphone.
  • In states like California and Massachusetts where employers are required to reimburse employees because of existing labor law, 29% of companies are not even aware of their compliance responsibilities.

Lack of awareness: split billing

According to the Syntonic-ISG research, nearly one-third (32%) of enterprises agree that the primary reimbursement related challenge is calculating the correct amount and the fees associated with processing expense reports. Other findings include:

  • Employers are reimbursing an average of US$71.40 per employee, per month.
  • Only 5% of employers have implemented an expense reimbursement solution to compensate employees for work usage on personal smartphones.
  • About 50% of the enterprises recognise the value of split billing software to facilitate a better understanding of employee smartphone usage.

'BYOD is critical to productivity; better visibility into employee mobile usage is a must'

On the bright side, Syntonic states "the majority (87%) of companies rely on providing employees with access to mobile business apps from their personal smartphones and claim business productivity would be impacted if BYOD were not available. An area of improvement for leadership is around the management of mobile investments and gaining better business intelligence".

  • On average, 68% of companies estimate employees use their smartphone at least four hours per week outside the office, with 20% estimating up to eight hours of usage per week.
  • Almost a third (29%) of companies reported that one of the reasons they created a BYOD program is to better understand how personal smartphones and mobile applications are used within the company.

The compny says the research "was conducted by ISG in the US summer of 2016. The results are based on 409 online surveys completed by members of the world’s leading independent online panel and survey technology provider in the US".

To qualify for the survey, individuals must work for a company with more than 100 employees, require or allow employees to use their personal device for work, and have a job title/function of chief executive, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief information office, or other executive decision-making positions.

Syntonic states that "an additional report will be released before the end of the year which focuses on employee attitudes around BYOD".

As noted above, the complete employer survey results can be downloaded after free registration here

Syntonic BYOD


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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