July 10, 2012, 7:32 PM — Some people love the movement known as bring your own
device (BYOD). Some even insist that it's their right to bring their iPhones,
Chromebooks or iPads to work. But I've always been wary of BYOD.
Recent developments in how businesses see BYOD have moved me from being concerned to being downright worried.
What I have distrusted about BYOD is its potential to become the attractive carrot for the stick of
cost-cutting. The BYOD concept was introduced with an emphasis on employee choice, but I never really bought that
spin, and the recent developments confirm my fears. The whole point of BYOD, from the point of view of the senior
executives who have embraced it, is to save money.
Take, for example, the state of California with its estimated $16 billion shortfall for the fiscal year. Money
doesn't grow on trees, even in fruitful California, so Chris Cruz, deputy director and CIO at the state's
Department of Health Care Services, decided to cut costs by no longer supplying or
paying for smartphones at all but instead requiring employees to use their own smartphones -- at their own
expense. The state employee unions aren't happy about this, so it isn't a done deal yet. But it's still a bad
sign of what's in store for workers.
Inevitably, requiring employees to use their own devices for work will happen at other businesses -- possibly
including yours. One day soon, the CFOs at many businesses are going to sit down with their CIO counterparts and
mandate IT budget cuts of 10% (there goes your company-supplied phone), 20% (there goes your company-paid mobile
phone and data services) or 30% (there goes your PC).
BYOD is a slippery slope. It started because we loved our tech toys and wanted to use them for work. That was
great for executives who could afford to buy the latest and greatest iPad every time Apple released one. But when BYOD becomes a
requirement, it's a pain for those in the upper salary brackets and a de facto cut in pay for those who don't make
the big bucks.
And we're talking about some major expenses. For instance, in my own case, my Verizon voice and data plan runs
me over $1,500 a year. I'm self-employed, so that's part of my cost of doing business. It shouldn't be part of an
employee's cost of keeping a job.