June 04, 2012, 10:52 AM — Would you allow top salespeople to use personal smartphones for work?
BYOD, or bring your own device, makes a lot of sense for these road warriors. Client-facing mobile workers have the most to gain from popular BYODs such as iPhones and iPads. Yet some CIOs don't let salespeople use their smartphones on the job-it's the dirty little secret of BYOD.
It all boils down to the phone number. Who owns this critical corporate asset?
It's not a stretch to foresee a salesperson jumping to a competitor with a phone number that customers are familiar with, and the dangers associated with that. "Salespeople are notorious for trying to take their Rolodex with them, and BYOD exacerbates the problem," says Ben Tomhave, principal consultant at governance, risk and compliance vendor LockPath.
Number ownership is the single biggest barrier to BYOD smartphone adoption, a CIO told me at the Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise Conference and Expo, or CITE, in San Francisco earlier this year.
The difficulty in porting numbers is "one of the reasons why we don't see a lot of sales groups go BYOD," says Brandon Hampton, a founding director of Mobi Wireless Management, a software and services provider that advises Fortune 100 companies on wireless strategies and the realities and myths behind BYOD.
But there are ways around this problem.
Google Voice and virtualization software that allow a smartphone to receive calls from multiple numbers are some of the more obvious solutions. Of course, this adds layers of complexity to BYOD that can offset cost savings and productivity benefits.
Hampton has heard of a new corporate policy that gives a company the right to take the BYOD number back when an employee leaves. Indeed, BYOD is creating a storm of employee policies in favor of companies to mitigate such risks.
"Through contracts and BYOD policies, companies can hedge against the [number portability] risk and protect the good will that companies have developed with customers or vendors or individuals," says Brent Cossrow, partner at Fisher and Phillips, a law firm specializing in labor and employment law.
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