There are two separate issues involved with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies that seem to get constantly mixed up:
- Who pays for the device
- Choice of device
Who pays for the device
With the proliferation of smartphones in the general population, many employees who did not previously have a corporate paid device, and who didn’t necessarily require mobile access to do their jobs, are now asking to be able to use their own devices at work. Since these devices belong to the employees, this is truly a BYOD phenomenon.
Companies may benefit from increased productivity amongst users who are keen to check email more frequently on their shiny new toys business productivity tools. Employees may also be happier, because they get to play with their shiny new toys more.
This has led many cost-conscious companies to consider extending the BYOD concept to their corporate paid devices as well. Why not make it consistent, and everyone will be happier? Right?
For employees who already have corporate paid devices, shifting the expense onto them will certainly not make them happy. Even if they can retrieve the cost through an expense process, or even if you give them a stipend, it’s still a lot more hassle than they had to deal with before.
Will it save the company money? Probably not.
Choice of device
Regardless of who is paying for the devices, employees are definitely demanding that their employers allow wider choice. It is certainly possible to offer corporate paid iPhone and Android devices, and some companies have already been doing this for the past couple of years.
Employees like these new choices, since many have a strong preference for one type of device. Also, few people want to carry two separate devices for work and personal use.
Offering support for the newest devices helps companies to project the image that they’re progressive and that they’re aware of employees’ desires.
These questions are currently being debated in most companies, and most will settle on some kind of combination. Some equipment is better suited for certain job functions, e.g. ruggedized devices. Some employees rely heavily on mobile devices, and it will cost companies less to pay for them directly, both in hard dollars, and in maximizing employee productivity. On the other hand, the BYOD trend is exciting for employees who weren’t previously able to use a mobile device for their work.