Bring Your Own Device Takes Another Hit

The introduction of Bring Your Own Device was a dream come true for cost-conscious IT departments. Instead of having to spend lots of money to equip their workforce with corporate-owned smartphones and cellular plans, all they had to do was 'let' workers use their own smartphones and cellular plans for business; talk about a win/win.

You get the phone you want and I don't have to spend any of my IT budget - "ka-ching"!

It may have been sweet while it lasted, but IT departments have been realising that BYOD isn't quite the free ride they initially thought it would be.

The first setback came with management. IT departments were happy to let employees spend their own money on phones and plans, but they still wanted to be able to secure and manage those devices as if they were company property. This resulted in uncomfortable conversations that would generally go something like this:

IT: "Hey, isn't this great, you get to use your own phone for work. Awesome! Now, we just need to put this big mobile device management app on your phone so we can ensure that it's secure, that you aren't keeping data you shouldn't and that we can remotely wipe it if you lose it. And, oh yeah, we can track usage and even your physical location but, don't worry, we won't abuse that. Sound good?

Employee: "Yeah, that's not going to happen... Ever."

So, with employees resisting giving IT 'ownership' of their 'own device', some form of compromise had to be reached. Businesses began implementing what controls and security measures they could, without having to touch the end users' devices too much, and employees continued to foot the bill for the phone and the plan.

But now this may change with a recent twist in the BYOD tale. A court ruling in California has basically said that any company must pay for part of the cellular plan if employees are using their own cell phones and plans for professional purposes. This means that these businesses could soon be seeing monthly expense reports from employees, outlining how much they expect back from the company to cover some of the costs of their cell phone.

This is likely starting to make company-issued devices look pretty good again.

Of course, the funny thing is, this is how it used to be. In one of my old jobs, I regularly submitted work-related mobile phone usage as part of my monthly T&E report. Interestingly, back then I also included a portion of my home internet costs as well, since I often worked from home.

While I don't see employee expense reports for their home broadband making a return anytime soon, this court ruling could serve as a boost toward the move of company-issued or choose your own device mobile strategies.

After all, if you have to pay for the plan anyway, you might as well throw in the phone, and get back all of the management and security benefits you lost from trying to do BYOD in the first place!

This article was written by Jim Rapoza, Senior Research Analyst and Editorial Director, Aberdeen Group.