Bye bye, corporate phone

BlackBerry, meet BYOD. Users are demanding their own smartphones, and support-weary IT is only too happy to hand over the reins.

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The transition has freed up Napolitano's 100-person IT group, which supports 2,400 U.S. workers, from taking on a costly support burden. While IT does provide a modicum of support for non-corporate phones, mostly related to email setup, it does so without any adherence to the formal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that were in place for BlackBerry users.

"Our support costs would have shot through the ceiling if we had to have people on staff specializing in Apple and Android," Napolitano says. "A big portion of the decision was for cost avoidance related to having to support [multiple devices] while still enabling our customer base to get what they want."

BYOP: Buy your own phone

The Reinvestment Fund, another organization that has long supplied key employees with a corporate phone, is also now offering its users a choice, but with a slightly different approach.

Users who qualify for a phone based on job description (mostly salespeople, executives and other managers) can either stick with the corporate-standard BlackBerry and not pay anything out of pocket, or they can purchase their device of choice on their own.

Once they pay the one-time fee for the phone, employees can be added to the company's corporate service plan with Verizon, at the company's expense. If they want to use another carrier, such as AT&T, then they are completely on their own.

"There's little to no expectation that we should buy users a phone -- everyone already has that," says Barry Porozni, CIO for the 80-person financial services firm. "The expectation is covering the service fee because when you think about it, the investment in the phone is small compared to the monthly fee. Still, we don't want to process additional connectivity fees and reimbursements simply because a user wants a different carrier."

Because he considers most phones mainstream devices, Porozni is still happy to have his four-person IT team field support calls for problems with email, calendars and contacts, but for anything beyond that, he says, folks are left to fend for themselves.

Except of course, for the C-level suite. For them, Porozni says his team will make an exception. "If you're a C-level exec and you can't figure out how to send a picture to someone, we'll make an effort to show you how to do that," he concedes. "But generally these are things they know how to do before they get to us."

Since launching the BYOD program, The Reinvestment Group's BlackBerry numbers have dwindled to around 10 or less, and there are data-plan requests for 50 non-BlackBerry devices, including both smartphones and tablets.

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