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Channel Curmudgeon: BYOD Isn’t Dead, But It Should Be

BYOD

… to summarily nix a benefit that they’d been pitching to potential new hires, all hell broke loose.

Today’s reality is that most of your customers, and probably your own company, officially have BYOD programs while also continuing to provide company-paid devices just like they did before. It’s the worst of both worlds! IT departments have been forced to expand their device choices to include four or five iPhone versions and as many high-end Android devices. Users have the phones they want, and now, if they want to bring their own tablets to work to read their corporate email, great. IT doesn’t have to buy them an iPad. That’s a win, right?

No, it’s a mess. Your sales team has full contact info for your top customers in their personal phones. Customers in regulated verticals are one lost iPad from being fined out of existence. GDPR is going to add a whole other layer of misery, mark my words.

Stop the Madness

If you must have a BYOD program, you must also have a formal mobility policy. Ditto for customers, and this is one service offering it should be easy to sell.

A bunch of people have to be involved in developing that policy: HR, security, compliance or legal, labor relations if you’re equipping hourly personnel, and, though I hate to admit it, IT. HR should have the biggest say in whether a given firm’s hiring situation makes nixing an employee benefit an OK decision, or if you need to “ease the pain” by providing a stipend. Of course, if paying out money comes into the picture, we’d better get the guys who run the payroll system in on this post haste, and someone had better figure out if that stipend is taxable under the new 1,000-plus page tax law.

And information security is still a core responsibility. As we noted above, companies that are focused on security recognize the potential exposure inherent in users carting their own mini computers into the office and, ideally, apply compensating controls. I’m talking defining which device models and software versions are allowed; enforcing basic security requirements like strong device passwords; and, if you’re serious, selling (and using) mobile device management (MDM) systems that guarantee all those best practices are being followed.

Let’s look at the score now that the dust has settled: Some employees have the perk they had before, usually with a better choice of handsets. Some lost the perk and now have to use their own phones for work. Maybe the company throws a couple of 20s to ease the hit on data usage or help pay for unlimited talk and text. Companies that didn’t have any meaningful mobile security before BYOD still don’t have any. A few smart agents have programs to help customers pick up the pieces when a device is lost or a sales VP quits and takes the whole customer list, and her phone number, with her.

Glad we straightened that out.

C.P. McGrowl, chief channel curmudgeon, is a recurring feature on Channel Partners. Since 2018, a rotating cast of characters have used this space to vent about what’s sticking in their craw. The Channel Partners editorial staff pledges to protect the identity(s) of C.P. McGrowl, up to and including a night or two in jail on contempt of court charges. Heck, that would add to their journalist cred. Bring it, DOJ.

Got something to say? Email the editior, and tell her McGrowl sent you.

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