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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Corporate perks: Always popular

Other long-time BlackBerry shops like MOM Brands (a cereal company formally known as Malt-O-Meal) are eyeing BYOD more cautiously, intrigued by the idea of offering choice and potentially sexier technology to its user base, but not willing to give up the robust security and other enterprise features that are synonymous with the BlackBerry brand.

What MOM Brands' 500 BlackBerry users also don't want to give up is the perk of having the company foot the bill for the phone and service plan, despite the fact they may not get hands on their ideal phone, according to Tim Wood, a technical support analyst.

"Users [still] want a corporate-sanctioned phone, they just want the corporate-sanctioned phone of their choice," says Wood. "They're used to not paying for the monthly plan and device and there are no restrictions with the BlackBerry. We don't push [enterprise] software out to the phones -- they are used only for email, phone calls and texting -- so they can use them for personal use."

That said, things could change at MOM Brands, and soon: Wood is working with his peers to evaluate BYOD and make some sort of proposal to IT management.

Ripping off the bandage

At VMware, its 6,000 U.S. employees no longer have a corporate option. Under Egan's BYOD transition program, launched in September of 2011 and wrapped up in December, there are no more corporate-issued phones and service plans -- only a program that reimburses eligible employees for their smartphone expenses.

Once the decision was made to do away with the corporate phone, Egan's team segmented its user base, with input from line-of-business managers, to determine which employees legitimately needed a phone for business reasons and what was reasonable for reimbursement based on their usage.

Sales representatives, for example, are awarded $250 a month because they tend to be more reliant on the phone out in the field, including, for some, international travel. Most users outside of sales get a stipend of $70 monthly, Egan says, though overages can be negotiated.

"If there's a legitimate business reason for why the phone bill is higher, that's okay," Egan says. "We didn't want to affect business as a result of all this." And some workers get only the privilege of using their own smartphone to access office apps -- no stipend at all.

To get the transition rolling, users were coached through the process of converting their corporate phone into a personal phone and initiating a plan with their preferred carrier. Those who wanted a different phone than the one they had been issued by VMware had to pay any differences out of pocket and ensure their phone of choice supported BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or Microsoft ActiveSync.

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