How to screw up a BYOD rollout

Companies with naive or shortsighted goals find that dumping mobile devices onto employees doesn't play out as planned

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Poor implementation worsens naive approach to BYOD
Some companies compound the (perceived) poor results by making other mistakes. One is to have employees expense their mobile bills, which costs about $25 per expense report to process (adding cost). Hampton suggests that companies pay a flat fee, perhaps in each paycheck, for mobile reimbursement for users whose mobile needs are moderate, and buy and manage the devices (and data plans) used by heavy users. In his experience, the flat-fee reimbursement is cheaper, especially if you base it on role and have just a few tiers of reimbursement amounts. If you tie it into your Active Directory monitoring, you can see which employees are accessing corporate resources via mobile and reimburse just those employees.

He recommends companies continue to provision devices to heavy users even if you let them choose which device to use, as is increasingly common. That way, you can usually get better coverage plans, especially for international travelers, when you bundle them as a package to a provider.

The other common mistake is not to have a mobile management strategy in place; whether a device belongs to the company or employee and whether or not the company pays for it, you manage access to your network and corporate resources using mobile device management (MDM) and other tools based on policies you should already have in place for internal access to corporate resources. It turns out that many companies don't do this, then get surprised when a departed employees' tablet ends up on eBay still containing corporate data.

Hampton notes that midsize companies struggle with these issues more than large ones because they typically have a "phone guy" rather than a team of people experienced with the various areas, which include device management, security, policies, and carrier relations.

The "dump the costs" strategy may gain traction, unfortunately
Because the motivation at so many companies is to save money, but not increase employee productivity, Hampton has seen odd deployments. For example, one company charges its employees an annual fee for access to corporate resources from their personal devices. More surprising, employees are willing to pay this "convenience fee" to do work from their own devices.

Hampton has also seen companies purposely require the use of expense reports to claim stipends, knowing that many employees won't do the paperwork and the companies won't have to pay those stipends. Employee acceptance of such abusive actions only encourages the notion that BYOD means "shove the costs onto employees" rather than "let's figure out how to work better and smarter."

It's possible that "shove the costs onto employees" approach will only gain more acceptance. I've heard in the last year several executives muse about having employees buy their own computers, selling it as an opportunity to use a computer of their own choosing. They saw that employees were willing to buy iPhones, iPads, and Androids -- and that corporate security was not compromised in the process. Hampton has also heard such musings.

We've already seen companies stop paying for at-home phone lines and broadband, as employees willingly picked up the costs for their own convenience. Perhaps if this trend continues, we'll have to pay to use a desk at the office, like independent contractors such as hair stylists and real estate agents do.

I hope not. If a company's motivation is to shift costs to employees, BYOD and the consumerization-of-IT trend will fail to benefit that company in the medium to long term. The company will instead get employees used to standing apart from the organization, with the dire results that usually brings. You've been warned!

This article, "How to screw up a BYOD rollout," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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