A great deal has been made lately about the trend towards BYOD – that's Bring Your Own Device and refers to the notion of allowing users to use their own personal smart phones, tablets, and other computing mechanisms rather than equip them out of the organizational supply closet.
Although much of this attention has been properly focused on the need to secure the devices, secure the data they transmit, and support and upgrade the multiple platforms they inevitably represent, what often is missing from the conversation is the non-equipment side of the equation: the carrier and service plan needed to connect the front-end device to the back-end server.
To be sure, organizations that have provided devices to their users already have some kind of service in place. But odds are that not everyone who will be allowed to use his or her own device will already be a subscriber to that same carrier. So some time has to be spent figuring out whether and how to either reimburse or subsidize users of those other services, or whether and how to require them to migrate to the corporate provider.
To me, this is potentially far more important an issue than the selection of the devices that will be supported, for the carriers make most of their money from their server subscriptions and not from their hardware sales. Why you can buy a phone for a penny? Because you have to sign a contract to spend a lot of money every month to use it, and that's where they get you.
This is very much the old model by which the likes of Schick and Gillette will give you the razor knowing you will come back over and over again to buy their blades. From the standpoint of BYOD, this means you are far more likely to hurt yourself by improperly or incompletely thinking through the carrier question than you are by backing a too-wide array of devices. Neither will prove to be especially economical, but having to pay multiple connections fees is a financial drain that can be relatively easily controlled.
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