Revisiting BYOD Policies for Your Enterprise

Several years ago, many organizations considered BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment for their mobile needs versus managing a Corporate Liable program.  Some of these organizations went forward with implementing BYOD policies in what they thought was a cost-effective, hands-off approach to managing mobility. While it was a heated debate years ago, now most enterprise IT executives have concluded that what seemed like an acceptable approach at the time has actually caused further complications down the road. Today, many enterprises are navigating from a BYOD program back to a centrally managed corporate liable program to effectively manage their organizations mobility needs. How did this happen? And what are the best practices to migrate from BYOD to a Corporate Mobility Program?

The BYOD Dream                                                                                                                                                                Having your employees bring their own smartphone or tablet to do work functions was thought to be an interesting and cost-effective trend to follow. On the upside of BYOD, implementing BYOD policies meant spending less of your employees’ time on training while saving money on expensive smartphones, giving your employees control of which device they wanted and allowing employees to manage their rate plans. It was a common belief that employees were tech-savvy and familiar with the operating system of their preferred device, whether it was Apple or Android.  It was also thought that employees would have access to favorable rate plans, features and discounts and make the right decision with aligning their usage to minimize costs.

Most employees were either given a stipend to cover the cost of their service or were allowed to submit an expense reimbursement request.  This led to complete lack of visibility of your company’s mobility costs.

Where did BYOD go wrong?                                                                                                                                        Employees bring in a wealth of experience and knowledge that is key for any successful organization.  Expecting they also have the time and expertise to manage their wireless needs was far from reality.  Outsourcing the management and oversight of wireless devices, services, and cost resulted in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind environment.  Listed below are some of the key issues created by implementing a BYOD program.

1.  Costs                                                                                                                                                                                    Rate plans, features and discounts are forever changing.  As data usage increases with newer wireless networks, devices, and applications, the need to constantly evaluate rate plans is a must.  Carrier’s enterprise contracts can contain some fantastic discounts well beyond what an individual can find in the marketplace. While a company with a BYOD policy many not worry about service costs, when other factors that involve the use of a personal device for business come into play, those can cause challenges when employees feel they should be compensated. Expenses like international long distance and roaming costs can bring in thousands of unexpected costs if not managed closely.  Aligning your actual usage to the best available rate plans and features takes experience and focus.

2. Security                                                                                                                                                                          Security issues that come with use of personal devices in a corporate work environment. Employees likely would not feel very comfortable allowing their employers to access all the data on their personal devices. The result is either the employee is unhappy with what feels like an invasion of privacy, or the employer does not have a full grasp on the data that may be exposed on these devices and loses some control of their security.

The complexity of your security environment must increase if you implement a BYOD program, for the reasons stated above, but also due to the fact employees will be taking these devices home and leaving the secure network of your business. So, while you may have saved costs up front with not purchasing new devices, you may be paying more on the back end for security costs to deploy and implement a viable MDM solution.

3. Distractions and Lost Productivity                                                                                                                      Additionally, if employees are using their personal devices at work, it is more likely they will become distracted by messages, entertainment, or other diversions. This can lead to a negative impact on productivity.

4. Compatibility Issues                                                                                                                                                              You also may find some issues with use of different operating systems and compatibility with your enterprise software use. On a team of 10 workers, you might find 8 different devices supported by 6 different operating systems. The software your employees need to access may not even work on all the different operating systems and device types that employees could bring to the table. In addition to compatibility issues, there are even more hidden costs with your IT team providing support across an unknown number of devices and issues.

5. Removing Sensitive Data                                                                                                                                                      You may run into issues at the end of the device lifecycle as well. When employees leave the company, you will likely want to remove any sensitive company information from the device, in order to prevent data leaks.

6. Managing Device Costs                                                                                                                                                        The days of allowing your employees to decide when to upgrade their device – or not – is long gone.  New device costs can now exceed $1,000, while the value of the older device can be in the hundreds of dollars.

Migrating from BYOD to a CYOD or COBO model                                                                                                                       At the center of any Corporate Liable Wireless Program is a Policy.  The policy clearly states who gets a device, approved carriers and devices, upgrade qualifications, acceptable usage, request process, liability transfers in and out and, of course, an exception process.  Executive leadership buy-in along with readily available communications will ensure visibility and compliance to your wireless policy.

Providing your employees with flexible timing but with a firm must-complete date will allow those employees with non-standard devices to pay off outstanding amounts owned on installment plans, while also allowing for liability transfers to let employees keep the same number, but under the Corporate Liable Program.

For devices, our recommendation is N-1 (new minus 1 model), which offers employees relatively new devices but can save considerable expense by not issuing the latest, greatest, and most expensive devices.  Managing expectations on how long an employee should expect to keep their device working is important.  Some employees will want to upgrade their device every year, while others will be forced to upgrade once the manufacturer no longer supports an older device to avoid security risks.

Other options include a phased-in approach, either by geographic region, organization, and/or upgrade eligibility.  Whichever approach you take, it is important to communicate, communicate, communicate.

In OVATION’s two decades of experience managing mobility programs, for the most part we have found the total cost of ownership of a device to be much more than the initial equipment purchase. Many enterprises that moved to a BYOD environment ended up migrating back to a version of one of the Corporate Liable mobility programs for security and control over their data. For more help with creating and managing a mobile device policy for your enterprise, contact OVATION Wireless Management, where we have a team of industry experts that can help your business with this complicated issue.