One of the big issues that has always surrounded the bring your own device (BYOD) category is how to handle billing. A situation in which the employee pays for their entire bill and is reimbursed by the employer for the portion used for work purposes is inherently cumbersome and imprecise.
Recently introduced products from Syntonic and Good Technology take aim at smoothing out this inefficiency.
This week, Syntonic launched DataFlex. The report on the introduction at Beta News says that DataFlex can be used on iOS and Android platforms and is backwards compatible with other software suites:
The solution offers separation of personal from business use on any mobile operator network, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Syntonic DataFlex can also be easily integrated into any existing expense management platform to streamline employee reimbursement. It can be accessed via a self-service portal for easy provisioning of employee devices with business applications and website access.
In late July, Good Technology introduced two products that address billing issues in both BYOD and corporate-owned, personally-enabled (COPE) scenarios. The Good Enterprise Suite with Data Service offers features such as email, contacts, documents and browsing without incurring data charges. Good Mobile Analytics and Reporting reports on data usage on a per-application basis.
These approaches may not be best. InfoWorld Executive Editor Galen Gruman points to potential problems with the split billing approach, including the fact that vendors often overstate the savings, the time and manpower necessary to sort through billing to make sure allocations are accurate, the choices necessary on which party pays for minutes left over in data bucket plans, and the lack of a voice solution. In this instance, simpler may be better, Gruman writes:
But I suspect for most companies, split billing creates more problems than it solves, at least today. A better approach for them is to have an inexact reimbursement policy, where based on employee role, a certain stipend is provided.
The choice is clear for enterprises who invite employees to use their devices at work. They can try to not reimburse them at all – though, according to Gruman, this is illegal in California – or employ software to try to precisely determine how much the employee is owed. Or, companies can do what most have done since before BYOD even became popular: Compensate workers based on best guess, good faith estimates.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.