BYOD and Green IT

Last year I wrote an article on IT Service Management and the emerging trend of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) to the workplace.

You can read the full article here.

In that article I referred to the research undertaken by Citrix in 2011 which revealed that 92% of IT organisations are aware that employees are using their own devices in the workplace and 94% intend to have a formal BYOD policy in place by mid-2013. The research also found that attracting and retaining the highest quality talent, increased worker productivity and mobility, greater employee satisfaction, as well as reducing IT costs are the primary drivers of BYOD adoption.

Since then much has been written about the cost of BYOD and the fact that the cost savings may not be as great as initially perceived. There may be hidden costs including administration, security and support.

For example, Aberdeen Group found that a company with 1,000 mobile devices spends an extra $170,000 per year, on average, when they use a BYOD approach.

On the other hand, Cisco claims that they have made savings of between 17-22% from BYOD.

So the cost debate will continue but I think that even if there is additional cost this has to be weighed up against the additional benefits of employee attraction and retention, increased productivity etc.

Another benefit that is not often explored is that of the impact on sustainability.

BYOD will reduce the duplication of devices. Employees will only carry one phone and have one computer, laptop, tablet, and so on. These will be their personal devices that are also used for corporate activities.

If organisations can avoid people having to have a second computer, it can save a substantial amount of energy and natural resources. Manufacturing a PC requires 1.8 tons of raw materials – equivalent to that required to manufacture a mid-sized car – and about 240 kilograms of fossil fuels. This amounts to 81% of the energy that a computer uses throughout its lifecycle.

Given the increasing focus on BYOD the wider benefits including improved sustainability should be considered above and beyond pure cost savings.

The challenge facing organisations from a sustainability perspective comes with the disposal of devices at their end of their lifecycle.

Many organisations now have sustainability policies which include responsible recycling and disposal of assets. These policies ensure that toxic waste is not disposed of in landfill, that hazardous waste is not exported to developing countries, forced labour is not used to handle sensitive materials and that global standards such as ISO 14001 are adhered to.

When individuals are responsible for the disposal of their own devices, these activities become harder to control.

I believe that organisations should still have the sustainability policies they have today regardless of BYOD and provide the ability for employees to dispose of their devices through the arrangements that the organisation has with qualified e-waste organisations. It will be up to the organisation to educate employees to understand why responsible disposal is necessary and why they should use the organisation’s facilities as opposed to disposal outside of the organisation.

BYOD is not going to go away and organisations need to embrace the opportunities that it will bring. Any additional costs that may be incurred to provide a BYOD approach need to be balanced against the benefits and the return on investment that will be obtained from other areas such as those already mentioned e.g. employee attraction and retention, increased productivity and mobility and improved sustainability.

Gartner predict that 90% of organisations will support corporate applications on personal devices by 2014.

Improved sustainability is also high on the agenda of many organisations because it is directly linked to improved brand and reputation, customer retention and satisfaction, employee attraction and retention and a competitive differentiator.

Clearly, there are many other reasons for organisations to embrace BYOD.


In June 2012, Karen Ferris will be participating in a Green IT panel discussion at the itSMF New Zealand Conference 14-16 June 2012. The panel session is entitled ‘What Happens When the Greenie, the Guru and the IT Skeptic Get Together’?

Karen will be joined by Alison Rowe, the Global Head of Sustainability at Fujitsu and Rob England also known as the IT Skeptic. The session will be moderator by the President of itSMF New Zealand – Tristan Boot.

The panel will also be taking place at the itSMF Australia Conference 20-22 August 2012.

Come along for what is undoubtedly going to be a lively debate.

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