Is Choppiness Ahead for Army Mobility Spending?
Published: January 05, 2022
How much spending is at stake when the Army implements a new Bring Your Own Device policy?
- Army is implementing an expanded Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot program for the National Guard and Army Reserves before moving it to the Regular force.
- Army spends about $263M per year on mobility, including both devices and services.
- Army spending on mobile devices averages about $20M per year.
Just before Christmas, the Army Chief Information Officer, Dr. Raj Iyer, announced a new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that is under development. Citing advancements in technology that make accessing the Army365 environment (its instance in the Microsoft365 cloud) more secure, and adding the need to provide access to remote capabilities due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Iyer stated that his office would expand a current BYOD pilot program for the National Guard and Army Reserves in fiscal 2022. An earlier phase of the pilot has already been completed with the National Guard and it showed promise, prompting the coming expansion.
The question on industry’s mind is how this pilot might affect Army spending on mobile devices and services. After all, if soldiers are allowed to access key capabilities via their own devices it reduces the need for the Army to spend on work-dedicated devices. I don’t currently have an answer as to what the impact on mobility spending might be, but I can inform readers about the levels of spending that are at stake.
Army Mobility Spending, FY 2018-2020
A survey of data from three of the last four fiscal years reveals that Army’s spending on mobile devices and services rose 29% from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2020. GovWin’s Federal Market Analysis team is just beginning to compile data for fiscal 2021 so that data is not yet available.
To what extent is spending on mobility services higher than spending on devices? By a multiple of twelve. Adding up the Army’s mobility spending from FY 2018 to 2020 gives us a total of $788M. Doing the same for spending on mobile devices – to the extent that specific brands can be identified – yields a total of $60M. The army therefore spends significantly more on mobility services than on devices.
Army Mobility Spending by Device Brand
Here is the data divided by identifiable brand of device. Note that the Army continues to spend on BlackBerry devices.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the extent to which the Army’s spending on mobile devices is split between those used for classified and unclassified purposes. The Army also makes use of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s mobility program for classified devices, so that affects the numbers as well. Suffice it to say that the majority of Army mobility spending concerns unclassified access to capabilities. Raj Iyer’s announcement also made it clear that access to Army365 will cover primarily unclassified access/use.
Implementing a BYOD program should reduce Army spending on mobile devices, which the current data shows averages about $20M per year. Concerning mobility services, these too could feel the bite of troops accessing email and other capabilities via their own data plans rather than using an Army data plan. If that occurs it means that the roughly $243M that the Army spends annually on mobile services could decline. These are the numbers at stake per year. What remains to be seen is how deeply BYOD might cut into it.