How to Navigate the New BYOD ‘Spectrum’
One of the big misconceptions about company BYOD policies is that they’re all-or-nothing propositions — either the company owns and pays for everything, or it doesn’t. In reality, BYOD-based mobility plans can be as flexible as you need them to be.
Mobility managers and CIOs are much better off thinking of BYOD as a spectrum of mix-and-match combinations — with the corporate-owned, super-secure device on one end, and the tricked-out employee-owned device on the other. More than likely, no two companies practice BYOD the same way.
So how can managers navigate the fast-evolving, increasingly complex BYOD universe? Here are three fundamental questions to sort through to help figure that out — and land on a smart, efficient mobility strategy that has huge payoff potential for any 21st-century organization.
“Bring your own” means what it says — relieving the company of bulk hardware purchases. But that doesn’t have to be the case. After all, the ultimate point of BYOD is to allow users to do their work on the devices they’re most comfortable with, hence enhancing productivity. There are plenty of ways to get there:
- Choose Your Own Device: Yahoo! allows employees to choose from a selection of different phones — all corporate-owned but personally enabled. This gives the employee a say in their device, but keeps the bulk-buying cost savings in place. And it makes mobile device management and security measures easier on IT.
- You Buy, We Pay: The company reimburses the employee for their own device purchases. Even within this scenario, options abound: What’s the size of the reimbursement? Is it a flat rate? Does the company approve certain handsets and exclude others?
- Use Your Own: A company can also allow employees to bring their existing phones into the network fold, and have IT outfit them with any necessary security software. No money changes hands.
From there, it’s up to a company to determine whether it will provide day-to-day support for BYOD phones and tablets.
Or more importantly, who owns the data on the device? (We’ve discussed this before – the it’s all about the data, not the device.) Establishing legal ownership is important insofar as a company may need the ability to wipe sensitive information from a lost or stolen phone. It also provides visibility into user activity — from what apps are being downloaded to emails used and photos taken. InfoWorld editor Galen Gruman suggests different ways to manage ownership:
- Company Owned: The old-school method: The company owns and provisions the device, and lets the employee use it. All data, emails, apps, etc. belong to the company.
- Shared Management: Perhaps the most common for BYOD, a shared-management scenario involves signing an agreement stating that the phone belongs to the end user, but that they allow the company to access data on the device — including the ability to manage, wipe, or lock. IBM has a policy of turning off several potentially data-leaking apps on users’ personal devices.
- Legal Transfer: The user purchases the device, and the company buys it from them (usually for a token amount). This gives the company the ownership and ability to manage the device, with the understanding that it’ll sell the device back to the employee should they leave the company.
BYOD doesn’t mean companies can’t find better deals with carriers. In fact, most major carriers are still willing to offer a group rate, even if the group is made up of several individual-responsible-users (IRUs, as they’re called). That and other options to consider:
- Creative Group Rates: As CIOUpdate suggests, ”Think of it like a ‘tell a friend’ retail program where you get a discount for every customer that names you as a referral source. If you can get large numbers of IRUs to use your carrier/plan, you may get even bigger benefits in the way of credits to your corporate account.” That option gives employees a break on the monthly bill and lowers the portion that the company will reimburse.
- Mobile Stipends: Some companies include a flat mobile “stipend” as part of an employee’s compensation, covering some or all of monthly wireless fees.
- Expense Reports: One common reimbursement method for individually liable wireless plans is to allow users to include all or part of their wireless bill on a monthly expense report. This model has advantages, although Aberdeen Group research suggests the admin costs are significant and it doesn’t allow a company to tailor plans to users’ needs. But new tools, like Concur’s recent integration with Mobility Central, are making expense reporting for mobile a lot smoother.
Bottom line: There’s no right-or-wrong, black-or-white way to handle BYOD as long as there’s a plan in place that takes account of your company’s assets, needs, and overall expenditures. Establish clear company policies around device and data ownership, and security expectations, and make sure you have visibility into the entire inventory.