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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As can be imagined, not every employee was happy with the changes. Some who'd had unlimited company-paid plans in the past didn't want to have to start thinking about costs, Egan says. Others questioned the reimbursement rates, disliked the process of filling out expense reports, or simply said it was time-consuming to work with carriers.

Egan said his team did everything possible to make the experience less of a headache for users, including training, inviting carriers in to make presentations to users, and what Egan claimed was his ace in the hole: The company's internal SocialCast collaboration platform, which served as a central place for disseminating information and for users to help and support each other through the transition.

While Egan's rip-off-the-bandage approach to BYOD might be somewhat controversial, he said it would have been far more difficult to manage a phased approach and the decision fit with what he says is VMware's "all-in" culture, which eschews phase-ins in general in favor of sweeping moves and quick decisions.

In the months since the program's been in place, the company has already achieved significant cost savings -- about a third of what it was spending on cell phone fees in the United States, which Egan says is easily in the seven figures. Savings came primarily from more stringently monitoring which employees needed a corporate phone at all and from directing managers to keep a closer eye on their employees' monthly usage reports.

Now that he no longer does phones, Egan is happily shifting his focus to more strategic endeavors. "I didn't know how to add a lot of value [just] being 'the phone guy,'" Egan says. "Now we can roll out programs and services that increase revenue and help VMware build better products."

Longtime contributor Beth Stackpole last wrote for Computerworld on IT execs learning to let go of their 'command and control' mindset .

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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