Top five reasons to take your mobile environment corporate-liable

Here's why you can't just let any employee use their own devices on a corporate network. You could be asking for trouble says John Shea of Rivermine.
Written by John Shea, Rivermine, Contributor
Commentary - Companies are frequently faced with employees who want a mobile device that isn't listed as a company-approved device for internal procurement, e.g., iPhone. While the natural inclination may be to let that rogue device simply hook up with the network and remain employee-liable, if any corporate data will reside on the device or the device will touch company assets, then major cost and security concerns make a strong case for going corporate-liable.

A simple solution to the iPhone example is to either broaden the pool of approved devices to include popular models or to transfer ownership of a particular employee's device and plan after the employee buys the device. With this issue in mind, following are five critical reasons why companies should establish a corporate-liable environment for mobile devices that have interaction with corporate data.

1) Pricing: Why leave money on the table? - Unlike employee-liable mobile environments, corporate-liable policies allow companies to leverage significant volume discounts and pool plans. This isn't chump change: We're talking $1-2 million in annual savings, which two of our Fortune 1000 customers recently realized. One Fortune 1000 customer transferred its employee-liable devices to corporate-liable and, with our wireless expense management (WEM) solution, soon discovered after the consolidation that they were a specific carrier's second-largest customer in the U.S. This enabled them to realize significant discounts and bolstered negotiation power. Also, another Fortune 500 customer was able to evaluate its current overall usage by utilizing WEM and used that data to then create efficient pool plans and add text plans to yield substantial savings amounting to millions of dollars per year.

2) Avoid unnecessary invoice processing - Say your organization has 5,000 employees who each own a mobile device. Now picture the administrative nightmare and time involved with processing 5,000 monthly invoices submitted with each employee's expense report, as well as cutting 5,000 checks each month through payroll. This scenario can be avoided with a corporate-liable mobile environment as a typical corporate-liable organization receives a maximum of two to three comprehensive wireless carrier invoices. These invoices can be constantly monitored and tracked against changing plan costs through a WEM solution, to ensure that the company is receiving the best rate at all times (and paying the correct contracted rate) for their actual usage.

3) Leverage cost allocation data - Utilizing a WEM solution in a corporate-liable wireless environment, companies can connect to their HR system and automatically cost-allocate mobile expenses for individual departments or projects, as well as fully track spending trends and take appropriate action. They can also easily identify zero-use phones to be disconnected from the plan to avoid ongoing service charges and ensure that employees who no longer work for the company aren't still expensing their mobile invoices.

4) Don't lose control of data on mobile devices – Simply put, if the employee owns the device and owns the wireless service contract, he or she controls primary access to the data and there is a limited amount of activity a company can do if the device is compromised. If the company has a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, then it could be deployed to gain remote access to a device; however, the contract is still owned by the employee, creating major limitations on corrective action that can be taken. For example, an employee may delay reporting their device as lost or stolen because they believe they will find the device or they feel sheepish for losing it. This type of situation can be avoided with a corporate-liable scenario, which allows companies to utilize real-time wireless usage management services for help desk services and to better enforce corporate-wide mobility policies, such as remotely preventing certain devices to make international calls or setting parameters to identify whether a device is being used. Additionally, if the device is owned by the corporation, then it must be returned when employees leave the company-- lessening the chances for sensitive corporate data to remain exposed on the device.

5) Match appropriate devices and plans to job roles - In an employee-liable device environment, there is no regulation of which devices and plans can be used by different employees. Certain devices are best suited for specific job roles and can result in out-of-control costs if over-servicing devices and/or plans are purchased. For example, if an employee signs up for a plan including 1,000 monthly minutes but routinely uses only 300 of the minutes each month, then the company is significantly overpaying. Also, mismatched device capabilities for intended job functions can result in lower productivity. A corporate-liable approach streamlines this issue by allowing a WEM solution to tap into the HR system to determine which devices are designated for various title levels. For example, a field technician is often well suited to use a walkie-talkie style device without a texting plan, while a sales executive is more suited to a smart phone equipped with a hefty data plan.

John Shea is the chief marketing officer at Rivermine

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