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Have Product Advancements Made BYOD Obsolete?

Balancing Choice and IT Standards

Many believe that ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) as an IT mobile management strategy was sown in the 2006 and 2007 timeframe with the introduction of iPhone and Android smartphones.  At that time simple phones along with Treo, BlackBerry and Windows devices had been the staple in enterprises.  Corporations and government agencies with serious security concerns had settled on BlackBerry due to its encrypted data transmission capability along with BES Server functionality which was a precursor to today’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.

The years that followed 2007 produced an explosion of smartphone devices with enormous customer appeal which launched the first decade of the millennium into mobile device commotion.  Individuals wanted to use the advanced interfaces of these leading-edge consumer devices in their businesses.  Then, all that was needed was voice communication and email.  By 2008, Apple and Android had supported ActiveSync link which gave access to the Microsoft Exchange server and business users everywhere saw the new features of these smartphones as essential for business use.  Information Technology managers began to chafe under the pressure and the pundits in the research organizations captured this angst under the banner of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD).

After several years of BYOD debate, recent industry studies are finding enterprises are pulling back from the idea that the solution to BYOD is individual employee liability.  In an article called ‘BYOD, Still a Work in Progress’ Bob O’Donnell (see link below for full article) notes that “20% of all IT decision-maker respondents with BYOD programs and 29% of the medium-sized business group said they have started to pull back a bit from their earliest efforts.”  The reasons for the pullback are varied and numerous, but they illuminate the reality that BYOD individual liability is not the complete answer for all organizations, or even most organizations.

One interesting trend is so recent that it has not been highlighted in recent analyst commentary.  The device that led to the rise of smartphones,iPhone 6 the iPhone, with its new iOS 8 operating system, has plugged a number of enterprise capability holes that originally spawned resistance by IT organizations.   Robert Sheldon in a recent article ‘Apple iOS 8, iPhone 6 Improves IT Security and Control,’ (see link below for complete article) emphasizes that iOS 8 “has added passcode protection to Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Messages, as well as to third-party apps.  It also supports individual email encryption through the use of Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions technology.” He further highlights that Apple now supports certificate-based single sign-on (SSO) so secure logins can be made without re-entering credentials as well as improvements that can be utilized by current Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to increase their effectiveness.  It should be noted that Android devices have made security advancements, but because their strategy is built on openness, these advances have not been as significant over time as Apple.  There is an inherent conflict with openness and security.

All of following factors:  industry frustration with the integral challenges of BYOD, continued technology advancements to address enterprise mobility needs (such as Mobility Managed Services, MDM and security friendly devices) and the new Apple – IBM partnership, may be trending to push BYOD out of the forefront of today’s mobility dialog.  Is BYOD about to become outdated?  Only you and your organization can make that judgment.  If nothing else, the recent trends should bring some pause to those organizations considering an imminent move away from a centralized mobility management strategy.  You may wish to reach out to Mobility Strategy experts as it will be costly and time consuming to reverse course and scrap BYOD if you find it was unnecessary in the end.  With an undertaking this significant you want to be certain that you are skating to where the puck will be, not where it is currently.

References

Bob O’Donnell, ‘BYOD, Still a Work in Progress’ http://bit.ly/1hlbkMj

Robert Sheldon, ‘Apple iOS 8, iPhone 6 Improve IT Security and Control’ http://bit.ly/Appleios8security

Accessories – A Growing Element of Equipment Costs

Practical Cost Reduction Ideas

Does your company have adequate checks and balances to catch those employees that order every accessory available just because they were offered on your ordering portal?  With all the challenges facing wireless administrators, monitoring the buying patterns related to accessory purchases may not be high on their to-do list.  Even in situations where management is approving orders and accessories we find that the steady influx of what seems like an insignificant cost compared to the cost of the primary device can accumulate over time to become a sizeable expense.  While the cost of accessories in a single month may not raise alarm flags, those costs when accumulated over a year can become sufficiently large to justify attention.

It is important to view the accessory cost in its own context and not overlook these charges simply because they are dwarfed by an increasing cost of smartphones, iPhones and tablets.  In one recent analysis we found that a company with reasonable set of corporate policies and order controls was still spending in excess of 20% of their monthly equipment budget on accessories alone.  There are ways to manage more effectively the accessory purchase processes and the cost of accessories.  Below are some steps to consider in bringing about a reduction in accessory expenses:Accessories

Control the Offered Accessories – if you are using an internal ordering portal or utilizing one from an Enterprise Mobility Management vendor, you will want to be careful to limit the number and type of available accessories.  It is not unreasonable to require employees to purchase accessories beyond the staple items like chargers, batteries and protective cases.  Whether you’ve adopted a cost sharing strategy with employees under BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) for handsets and data plans, accessories are a safe place to begin.

Ensure Visibility of Accessory Order Details – when management is part of the approval process, a clear delineation of the ordered accessories will be important to eliminating those that make it through the process just because they were a small portion of the overall approved cost.  Your approval workflow processes should include a clear delineation of the number and types of accessories ordered.

Consider Sourcing 3rd Party Accessories – Carriers make considerable margin on accessories.  It is an easy choice for buyers once they have selected their carrier and mobile device to throw in a few accessories that they might need down the road.  As such, the carriers face little competitive pressure on accessory pricing.  There is a certain convenience in ordering accessories from your carrier but you are paying for that convenience.  Some estimates have shown as much as a 50% savings on accessory cost when using third-party vendors.  It can be challenging to source a reliable accessory vendor that will work with your employee needs and who can provide easy ordering capability.  In addition, it is usually the case that you will want these accessory charges incorporated in your device Account Payable allocations.  Most Enterprise Mobility Management solutions do make accommodations that will allow the appropriate assignment of charges for accessories even though they do not appear on your carrier invoice.

For a company with 2000 wireless devices that spends 5% – 10% monthly on equipment costs this can translate into $12k – $15k a month.  If 25% of that cost is accessory expense, this can approach $50k/year.  Saving $25k a year or more can be worth the effort to consider instigating enforceable accessory policies and to entertain a third-party source for acquiring accessories.

Wireless Carriers’ Shifting Rate Plan Strategy

Group Data Sharing is the New Carrier Direction

There is a shift unfolding on the wireless landscape.  The Tier 1 carriers are providing new plans, not only to business, but to individuals and groups of individuals (families).  There is not an industry name yet, but we refer to this as Group Data Sharing.  AT&T calls theirs Mobile Share Value Plans, while Verizon refers to them as More Everything Plans.  Both carriers’ plans are similar for individuals, small family-like groups and for businesses.  What is different about these plans is that they are sharing data (data only); voice and text are included and unlimited.  For a group, the amount of data required is selected and then there is small access fee for each device that is a member of the group.   The carriers are interested in securing a new billing model that is centered on data rather than voice, and are making this new approach very worthwhile to new and current customers previously using voice centric plans.

Both Verizon and AT&T have previously announced their intent to deliver VoLTE (Voice over LTE).  When their engineering organizations have reached the required quality levels, the voice traffic will become part of the data usage.  How can businesses take advantage Mobile Phone with Bubblesof these changes?  If your average data usage per device is modest and if your device population is not high (less than 3K total devices) you may find you can reduce your bill significantly with Group Data Sharing plans.

Last week, Verizon announced that their More Everything business plans now would support groups of 100 devices.  This is a significant step towards making this viable to business. What started as 10 for families grew to 25, then 50 and now up to 100 devices can pool their data with unlimited voice and text.

Because these plans are relatively new, Verizon initially announced their plans in the summer of 2012, not all organizations are familiar with the benefits.  AT&T announced Mobile Share Value plans at the end of 2013 and started with a maximum for each group of 25 devices, which matched the Verizon plans at the time.

If you haven‘t looked at these plans for your Corporate Liable devices, you will be surprised at the impact it will have on your monthly invoices.