Most companies grappling with the BYOD trend think in terms of allowing personal iPhones, iPad, and Android devices. Virtualization heavyweight VMWare looked at the situation quite a bit differently. Instead of allowing personal devices, VMWare’s CIO Mark Egan decided to require employees to use their personal smartphones in the office.
The move, unorthodox to say the least, seemed to Egan the best option when he found himself sandwiched between the rock of corporate-owned smartphone expenses and the hard place of users clamoring for the choices of BYOD.
The transition, detailed by CIO reporter Tom Kaneshige, followed a unique and somewhat unexpected course. Instead of retrieving existing corporate owned smartphones and insisting that employees buy their own, Egan contacted the carriers that VMWare was using and told them that the company would no longer be taking responsibility for the accounts associated with the phones deployed to its employees.
That left each VMWare staffer with the choice to call the carrier associated with their current device and create an account in their own name or to buy a smartphone of their choosing. The only stipulation was that the devices must support RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Exchange ActiveSync, both of which allow IT staff to set basic security policies and to remotely wipe devices. The company’s policy informed users that VMWare could wipe their phone if and when it felt warranted – typically when it was lost or stolen or when the individual left the company. IBM implemented a similar policy when it launched its BYOD program.
The initial reactions from employees were mixed. There was the camp that felt their employer ought to be providing a phone and the camp that felt liberated to choose tools that suited them best. VMWare did continue reimbursing employees for business costs associated with the devices, though it capped the amounts it would pay. Ultimately, the company’s internal social network proved to be invaluable in reducing complaints and getting workers to share advice and opinions of the options.
Although BYOD programs are often associated with millennials entering the workforce and new hires, VMWares program wasn’t associated with either and didn’t add significant overhead costs.
“That’s all been baked into our program, and I feel very comfortable saying that I will save seven figures this year,” according to Egan .
It’s probably still to soon tell how successful VMWare’s mandate will be, but that hasn’t stopped the company from contemplating a similar program for other devices including notebooks.