Colgate expects that BYOD will save it money. Not only will more employees do office work on the go, they’ll be doing it on devices that Colgate won’t have to pay for. Van de Wiele says that for the 524 employees who’ve signed up to use personal BlackBerrys, Colgate is saving $1 million a year on license fees it would have had to pay BlackBerry maker Research in Motion if the devices were under corporate ownership.
By signing up, employees give up some control over their phones, since Colgate can use the IBM software to erase company data remotely (while leaving personal files such as photos and music intact). So if a device is lost or stolen, or an employee quits, Colgate can make sure work information isn’t at risk. Colgate says it doesn’t have enough information yet to say whether any employees have privacy concerns.
After the successful launch of its BYOD website, Colgate now plans to take the program beyond e-mail. The company has been piloting a personal-phone version of IBM’s Connections software, a sort of corporate Facebook-meets-Twitter for sending status updates and sharing files. On the drawing board: an internal app store to let employees add other applications from SAP, Colgate’s main business software supplier.
Analysts predict that, within three years, nearly all companies will support BYOD programs of some kind. Already, around 72 percent of firms surveyed by Aberdeen Group say they allow employees to use their own smart phones or tablets for work, four times as many as at the end of 2008. But keeping up with the fast pace of innovation in consumer mobile technology remains a challenge. “Enterprises are running as fast as they can but still falling behind,” says Aberdeen Group mobile analyst Andrew Borg. It’s a good bet that the Colgates of the world will have to keep running for years to come.