What Do Sandals, Uber, and Netflix Have to Do With BYOD?

It’s easy to see how the all-inclusive vacation idea became so popular. No hidden fees, no budgeting for meals, drinks, transfers, tips – just pay one fixed price, hit the beach, and order as many Mai Tais as you want.

This idea of providing a hassle-free service has also found favor outside the world of resort vacations. Take Uber: convenient pickup, clear pricing, no fumbling for cash or cards. Or Netflix: all-you-can–watch for a fixed monthly subscription, no schlepping to the rental kiosk.

BlackBerry saw an opportunity to apply this principle to another area that is not exactly hassle-free today: BYOD reimbursement.

While the use of personal devices at work has become commonplace, many companies struggle with the financial practicalities involved. Should I compensate employees for business use of their own device? If so, how much? How do I know the amount of business usage without invading personal privacy? And how do I avoid legal, tax, and compliance pitfalls?

Father holding baby daughter and working from homeWhy Typical BYOD Reimbursement Is So Complicated

Make the employee pay for all or most of their business use, and they may boycott your expensive collaboration apps in favor of less-secure consumer equivalents. Overdo it and pay for everything, and you may end up subsidizing their Netflix habit on the company dime, which could have implications for more than just your accountants – it could land you in legal trouble. If you think this is something you can ignore, you’re wrong.

Uber, for example recently tried to challenge California Labor Code section 2802 (which dictates that employers must reimburse employees for all work-related costs, including cellphone bills), claiming it had no duty to reimburse drivers with unlimited cellphone plans. It lost. While not all states have reimbursement legislation in place, it’s likely only a matter of time before they follow California’s example – and only a matter of time before mobile data is included under the umbrella of work expenses.

That brings to light a new challenge, however. Unlike voice calls, a smartphone or tablet’s mobile usage isn’t broken out in detail – you only know the aggregate amount used in the month. Companies are essentially blind to the amount of data being used by any given app, device, or employee for business, which makes reimbursement a guessing game.

In order to avoid the hassle of line-item, per MB expense claims, many companies pay a monthly stipend to their employees to defray the cost, or pick up the whole tab altogether – almost certainly overpaying in the process.

And it’s only going to get worse. Employees are now bringing multiple devices to work (laptop, phone, tablet, watch), often with different carriers, personal data plans, and apps; staff who travel will also transition between carriers and potentially incur roaming charges.

Add to that the increasing scrutiny from the tax authorities (is it a perk or a legitimate expense?), HR departments (is the company liable for personal activity subsidized by an overly generous stipend?), and the extra administrative overhead involved, and you can see why this was an area ripe for the hassle-free Sandals resort-style treatment.

WorkLife Prevents Reimbursement Pitfalls

WorkLifeWith the recent announcement of its WorkLife solutions, BlackBerry allows IT to provide secure enterprise mobility management (EMM) apps to BYOD users, together with the associated cellular data, as part of their monthly subscription. The data is essentially prepaid along with the software license, and leaves all personal usage untouched. Employees can now freely use their devices, whether BYOD or COPE (corporate-owned personally enabled), for business productivity without worrying about incurring personal expenses.

The business, meanwhile, remains compliant and is offloaded from the hassle of reimbursement.

And for companies that want to know how their business data is being used and where, BlackBerry WorkLife – Advanced Analytics is a cloud-based solution that offers a graphical drilldown of usage by app, carrier, and user. By measuring data used by any Good Dynamics, custom-built, or third-party applications built with the Good Dynamics SDK v2.0 or later, it allows more accurate reimbursement calculations and better overall compliance.

So there you have it – a hassle-free service for BYOD that allows you to roll out secure mobility across a mix of devices, carriers, apps, and policies in a way that employees will adopt, your accountants will love, and even your lawyers will applaud (well, we can always hope for the last one).

Mai Tais on the beach anyone?

Interested in learning more, or want to get started setting up your own reimbursement program? Contact us, and we’ll put you in touch with a BlackBerry Enterprise Software Sales Advisor.

amardeep kaushal

Blogger, Marketer & Data Analyst.

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