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BYOD is Here to Stay, Are You Ready?

smartphone . / Credit: BYOD Image via Shutterstock

Martin Morgan, Marketing Manager at Openet, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The mobile workforce concept is nothing new. Organizations have handed out cars, laptops and mobile phones to allow employees to work on-the-go for years and, more recently, invested in technology to allow remote access to their desktops from the comfort of their own homes.

Up until now, this flexibility was perceived as an incentive and required no contributions from the employee. But organizations that are 'up and coming' and looking to remain 'one step ahead of competition' are constantly looking for ways for employees to input data and respond to client emails in real-time. The pressure to remain connected is beyond the Millennial stereotype. Employers certainly see the benefit of tablets and smartphones for constant two-way communication and more employees, Gen Y through Gen X, prefer to have access to their work applications wherever they go.

For example, if you do a quick job search on Monster.com for 'BYOD,' a handful of ads pop up from big companies like Deloitte, Ernst & Young and AT&T looking for IT specialists to help employees transition into a BYOD work environment. In addition to employers' interest in shifting to a BYOD setting to arm staff with the tools to work more efficiently, employees are also seeking the opportunity to step outside the 9-to-5 cubicle walls to work on their own time. Given this interest, it's only a matter of time until 'bring your own device' becomes a job requirement to attract and retain employees.

A BYOD work environment may steer potential hires away from an opportunity for fear of the death of the eight-hour workday. But for prospects that see it as a plus, should they be required to pay for their device of choice? Well, that's up for debate because the purchase can be costly, taking away from the initial benefit. For a company that is 'up and coming' and 'one step ahead of competition,' how can BYOD be made a job requirement without it costing the organization and the employee?

Talk with your wireless provider.

Wireless communication has been the key to business innovation over the past decade. To keep up with the pace, wireless providers are evolving to better serve business subscribers.

Here are a few services organizations can ask their wireless providers about that can help them confidently post BYOD job ads without it backfiring:

Shared data plans

When providers introduced shared data plans, they were originally intended for families to give each member access to data. Now we're seeing the adoption of shared data plans for individual use to spread the pool of data across multiple, personal devices.

The trend picked up and providers like Verizon now offer a 'share everything plan' for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees and nationwide for 26+ employees. Shared data plans are a great way for an organization implementing BYOD to control data and usage amongst multiple devices.

Wholesale app usage

Businesses can negotiate a wholesale model with providers to give access to applications widely used by employees (Facebook, email, Evernote), free of cost.

This way, every time an employee accesses an application negotiated in the wholesale deal, it won't interfere with data usage.

Roaming data passes

Many employees on overseas business trips are reluctant about using mobile data while roaming, resulting in the time consuming search for free Wi-Fi or paying expensive hotel Wi-Fi rates and having usage restricted to when you're in the hotel. Research has shown that up to 75 percent of roamers actively switch off data roaming and the main reason for this is uncertainty about cost.

However, many wireless providers are now rolling out roaming data service passes, where a customer pays for a fixed amount of data over a certain time period — e.g. 500MB over one day, 1GB over one week. When the data is used up, the customer can stop using data or buy another pass — the result — transparency of costs, no bill shock and the removal of uncertainty.

More wireless providers are seeing this as an opportunity to provide data access when roaming and are implementing data roaming passes to be purchased right from the device via an app.

For business use, employees can purchase passes based on their need, whether it's just for a half hour or access to only email. Data roaming passes give employers visibility into data roaming costs to keep employees connected while on business.

Service passes

So it was finally decided — free iPhones for all employees! Service passes are a great service to ensure your employees aren't wasting time checking their fantasy football league stats when they should be monitoring the stock exchange.

With service passes, employers can work with providers to support ad hoc purchases of Internet access or particular services for a limited period of time and volume amount. For example, an employer can purchase service passes for use by employees' iPhones to have access only to the applications needed to keep the business going, Outlook, Salesforce, etc. to ensure productivity, connectivity and avoid accrued costs from data usage.

These are just a few examples of services wireless providers have configured to help organizations strike a balance between a finance department's requirements for expense control and the desire to keep employees connected.

Go ahead, have that chat with your wireless provider and confidently post that BYOD job ad.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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