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March 25, 2014

How BYOD is Changing How Devices are Purchased

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When it comes to how we get work done, there are as many different preferences as there are people. Some like to tackle multiple projects all at once, and others prefer to concentrate their efforts on a single thing at a time.

Some need absolute silence to do their best work, while others require music or even social interaction to keep themselves from falling into a stupor. And yes, some people prefer Macs and others prefer PCs.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these differences, but when we’re forced to work outside of our own personal preferences, that’s when the work itself begins to suffer. Add that fact to the growing availability of personal smart devices, and it’s easy to see why so many companies are beginning to embrace a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) atmosphere.

Allowing employees to work on the devices they are comfortable with provides many benefits, including increased productivity and employee satisfaction, but it also has a tendency to change some very fundamental aspects of business, and one such area is how software and devices are purchased by the IT department. Here are some aspects to consider:

1. Corporate PC purchases

For starters, let’s take a look at the market for corporate PC purchases. When corporate computer-use first began to gain a foothold a few decades back, the process was rather simple. The companies in question would purchase the hardware, prepare it for use by installing the necessary software and applications, and then allow the employees to use the devices to benefit the company. If the employees had access to a personal home computer, it was generally kept separate and distinct from the one on which they would do their work from 9-5. But as computers became more mobile and available — first with the introduction of laptop computers and later the appearance of mobile smart devices — that distinction became somewhat blurred. As such, many businesses found that purchasing and preparing corporate computers had become unnecessary; the employees would simply use their own devices, making corporate PC purchases a redundant expense. This truth may harm the PC market, as it is expected that by 2017, half of the world’s corporations will have stopped providing any sort of “corporate” device or computer to their employees.

2. Issue of ownership

Some may question how this is even an issue at all. After all, if the devices weren’t owned by the employees, then they wouldn’t be bringing their own device, now would they? However, BYOD is still a relatively new phenomenon. As the device is being used on company time, for company benefit, and must be capable to accurately handle company data, some employees are wondering why they’re the ones who are paying for it. Of course, were the company to purchase the devices in question for the employees, then we would be back where we started with the corporation deciding upon the hardware and software to be used. What’s more, the data that is accessed on a BYOD needs to also be regulated in some way so that it isn’t in danger of being compromised. Many companies have addressed these and similar concerns through the use of BYOD policies, but the question of ownership is far from answered.

3. Disputed data-plans

As we’ve previously mentioned, not everyone is in agreement about who should be paying for these devices. However, even when that question has been settled, there are other corresponding problems to solve. Modern devices, you see, aren’t a simple one-time purchase; they’re actually on-going expenses that can really add up quickly. Thus, the questions arise: Should the employee have to pay for minutes and data used on behalf of the company? Should the company have to pay for the personal time spent on the device? Neither option seems entirely fair, which is why many companies are working on policies that introduce cost-sharing options. By offering a monthly stipend to be put toward extra data use, or by paying a certain percentage of the bill itself, or even by working out a special deal with a chosen carrier, organizations can take some of the burden off of an employee who uses a BYOD. Of course, not every corporation is willing to do this, and some employees are finding themselves having to foot the entire bill by themselves.

So, as BYOD becomes more common, we can expect to see some major changes in the way that devices are purchased. And, just as the beginning of the digital era forever altered the corporate landscape, so too can we expect the BYOD era to change everything we know about corporate devices — not the least of which is how they are purchased.

 


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Rick Delgado is a freelance writer specializing in technology trends and the enterprise storage industry.

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