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BYOD stipends may soon go away (if IT gets its way)

Tom Kaneshige | June 24, 2014
Reimbursements for employees who bring their own mobile devices to work have gone through rapid-fire changes in just a few years. The most recent changes definitely don't favor workers. In fact, IT decision makers at companies envision the day when payments go away completely.

A tier-3 employee is typically a salesperson and receives $75

A tier-4 employee has a fully paid corporate phone

Additionally, both Cass customers have negotiated with wireless carriers to get deals on smartphones and service for their employees, such as discounts on data plans and, in some cases, waiving of termination fees for an employee's prior service contract.

With Cass, companies manage their BYOD workforce from beginning to end. New employees get assigned a tier by managers and enroll in the BYOD program over Cass's web portal. Employees who leave the company are removed from the system and no longer receive a credit on their wireless bill. An employee who gets promoted or whose role changes can be assigned a different tier.

Of course, herein lies one of the problems. Let's say an employee gets promoted from a field salesperson to a sales analyst who sits in the office all day. The employee's BYOD tier may change from tier three to tier zero, meaning they actually lose $70 a month in a promotion. Will the difference be factored into the uptick in salary?

The bigger threat to Cass's credit-reimbursement system is if BYOD payments go away completely. Josh Bouk, vice president of sales and marketing at Cass's expense management division, contends that no more than five percent of BYOD-supporting companies think they can get away with ending BYOD payments. He says BYOD payments will be around for at least the next five to seven years.

Cass's customers, though, are singing a slightly different tune.

The executive at the large manufacturing firm says his company is in the midst of evaluating its three-year BYOD reimbursement plan. "That's a discussion we're having right now." He says BYOD payments will eventually go away. Much like home Wi-Fi, employees will pay for a smartphone anyway. But he said he understands the personal nature of BYOD payments and assures they'll continue in the new version, although they might be reduced a bit.

"I think it's a transitional phase," he says. "To go to nothing in 2015 would be a very difficult thing for employees. They'll say, 'Here you go again, shifting costs back to us.'"


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