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  • Writer's pictureJody Glynn Patrick

The BYOD Choice: Bring your own device?

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Who should own a key employee’s smart phone, tablet, etc.?

I have mixed feelings myself. I had a company issued smartphone on which I was free to add personal apps purchases, synch it to my Facebook address list, etc. I compartmentalized my world by ring tone to appropriately answer a call for business or pleasure. For all practical purposes, it was my phone ... until I dropped it and the back glass panel broke. Then I was reminded that “Bring Your Own Data” doesn’t mean “and then it’s your device.” I could not, for example, authorize the free warrantee replacement.

The company phone had to be password authenticated by the IT department … which meant the breakage would be duly noted, which meant paperwork -- even though I’d been willing to pay for it and take care of the repair on my own time. That caused me to wonder, for the first time, if that phone had been stolen instead of broken, who would have the legal right to decide if or when to wipe the critical personal data also stored on that phone?

There are choices and more choices to be made every day: traditional MDM, Mobile Risk Management (MRM), Mobile App Management (MAM), containerization, virtualization, enterprise solutions and app writing — which means it’s a good time to call in your telecommunications expert and make a plan.

Also, involve your H.R. team (as well as IT team) in creating a policy for employees to secure your data that addresses (1) who provides the phone and for what uses, and (2) these issues, regardless of ownership:

Backup. Your IT department may have one view, your HR department another. User sensitivity to having a phone “wiped” of all data is lessened if the information is backed up to a secure third-party server by user password. Knowing I had cloud backup coverage, for example, lessened my worries of being able to retrieve personal data, or of internal company monitoring of personal passwords, etc., should the company and I part ways. It also allowed the telephone repair company to transfer the data seamlessly to the new phone. At most, as an employee or as a manager, I would not expect to lose more than one day’s communication history.

Reimbursements or plan usage models. You can set up different company liabilities based on differing job titles, but you’ll hit less challenge if you set the same reimbursements (say, a monthly stipend) per employment class (i.e., customer service technicians or field reps may have the highest expected business use, managers may have the next platform, etc.). Don’t do it on a person-by-person basis; stick to job-by-job.

Technical support. Spell out who is going to provide what coverage 24/7, so that somebody’s kid who is “good with a phone” isn’t jerry-rigging a solution when the phone goes dead over the weekend. If the device belongs to the user, how long is an acceptable out-of-service period for company purposes if the user is in the reimbursement program, but their unit is out of service?

Regardless who pays the bill, there are benefits to formalizing a “bring your own data” or “bring your own device” program. I would again suggest checking with your telecommunications expert for more examples of successful implementations, and for assistance in drafting your best solution. There is always a cost of entry to any new program, but those softer ROIs, like employee engagement and satisfaction, most definitely bend cost curves down and productivity up.

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