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BYOD decision points: Who pays?

Corporate policies vary on who buys the devices and who covers the monthly fees

By John S. Webster, Network World
June 17, 2013 06:10 AM ET

Network World - As enterprises implement BYOD initiatives, IT managers have some key decisions to make: who purchases the devices, who pays for data plans and carrier contracts, and how does the company manage a mix of corporate and personal access to data on the devices.

At Wells Fargo, employees are responsible for paying data charges, says Jim Spicer, executive vice president and CIO for Corporate Technology and Data.

Spicer says now that industry and vendor offerings have matured, the company has implemented a pilot program with 3,000 employees. The goal of the experiment is to provide technologies that better enable workers to support the bank's customers.

"It’s always been part of our strategy to test and evaluate products before bringing them to the enterprise. The pilot is where the rubber meets the road. We decided our team members would be responsible for data plans at this time," says Spicer.

At Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., a BYOD program implemented in 2010 has led to half of the company's employees personally owning their devices, and they pay for their own data plans. However, the company reimburses employees in cases where data access is work-related, says CTO Allan Campbell.

[ALSO: 10 BYOD worker types]

"In most cases, workers have their own smartphone anyway, and that's their preference. If the applications they use are heavily weighted toward work, they'll get reimbursed for the data charges," he says.

Reimbursement hasn't been an issue because the company doesn't get many requests for it. Especially if the employee uses a smartphone primarily for personal reasons, adds Campbell.

"In circumstances where there's a lot of personal use, we won't offer reimbursement. If they have the type of job where they use their own email or calendaring software for work, we'll reimburse for that. But a sales person on the road will opt for corporate applications, which we pay for," he says.

Aetna pays data charges for employees if they're using a company-supplied smartphone, but not for personally owned devices, says CIO Rich Leonard.

"Business departments are responsible for monthly data charges for corporate-owned devices and the limited number of shared devices. Individuals are responsible for their own data plans for their personal devices. However, Aetna has discount programs for most of the major carriers as an employee benefit," he says.

When workers are subsidized for smartphone expense, the amount depends on where the company is located, says David Willis, an analyst at Gartner.

"The subsidized amount varies widely throughout the world. In the United States, employees who receive a subsidy for smartphone usage typically receive $30 to $40 per month for voice, data and text. Most large organizations are pursuing a mix of fully funded, partially funded, and unsubsidized devices, based on the user's need for mobility in their job," he says.

Many times it's the employee who covers data plans. If they want to use the device of their choice, they have to cover it, says David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester

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