6 Tips For Financing BYOD Workplaces

Nov 04, 2013 (04:11 AM EST)

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Although most companies are used to financing their company-owned hardware and software licensing agreements, many are still not quite sure how to approach the plethora of devices that come into play when implementing a BYOD policy.

As employees depend more on their personal devices to get work done, the costs of BYOD are inevitably shifting to the enterprise. On top of this, the risks associated with unsecured personal devices accessing a company's network have increased to the point that not securing a single device within a BYOD ecosystem almost guarantees your network will face security breaches.

To deal with these challenges and remain competitive, tech and financing executives are combining forces to create long-term strategies to fund, safeguard and grow their mobile workforces. Here are some tips on how to use sound financing policies for your BYOD rollout.

1. Hybrid BYOD and company-provided device financing arrangements can give you the flexibility you need.

When implementing a technology-financing policy within your company, don't think you necessarily need to permanently designate your office as either a BYOD or a company-owned-device workplace. Equipment and software financing may be used for both BYOD and company-provided tablets and smartphones.

[ Struggling with BYOD? You're not alone: BYOD Creates Big Headache For Enterprise IT. ]

Combinations of BYOD and company-provided device financing arrangements offer a flexible option that can be tailored to best suit the way you conduct business.

2. Angry Birds: No. Encryption Software: Yes

Whether devices are BYOD or company owned, a key question that companies should ask is how devices or software licenses will be used.

In short, the equipment or software must be important enough that users would suffer a business interruption or a financial hardship if it were removed or were to go out of service. Lenders will want to know if the devices themselves are central to your company's computing and communications strategy.

If it passes these tests and your company is otherwise credit-worthy, the device or software in question can typically be financed over a two- to four-year term. If you're in the beginning stages of financing BYOD devices, it's also important to educate your employees on what your specific financing arrangement will and will not cover.

3. Take advantage of record-low rates to expand BYOD financing.

Rates for financing technology upgrades have been at historic lows, but they won't last forever. Therefore it's important for companies that plan on migrating to a BYOD program or add more mobile workforce options to their business to explore financing options soon.

4. If you're financing it, make sure you're securing it, too.

EverBank Commercial Finance adopted a BYOD policy in 2010. Whether a device runs on an Android or iOS tablet or handheld, the company loads it with company-provided software that includes a secure interface to access proprietary information databases, while also providing encryption and containerization of company information. It also provides mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to wipe company assets in the event the device is lost or stolen.

These applications -- and most data security and virus protection software that your company uses -- can be financed under an installment payment agreement (IPA) that stretches payments out over the term of the license.

5. Know your options in leasing partners.

For firms seeking to provide their employees with company-owned mobile devices, there are multiple financing options available, including true fair-market-value leases in which lessors assume a residual and offer financing that is close to zero percent.

Leasing firms that don't specialize in technology finance might shy away from financing these assets because devices are typically not housed under one roof and, therefore, have a tendency to get lost or broken and need to be replaced. On the other hand, technology leasing specialists tend to recognize that insuring the equipment for loss, theft and damage is a customary means of mitigating risk in a lending environment.

6. Successful sales of older-generation devices can prove attractive to financiers.

Tablets have held up well during secondary market sales, and this has motivated lenders in the space. For example, a recent scan of eBay showed even first-generation Apple iPads with just 32 GB of storage and Wi-Fi selling for anywhere from $158 to $191. So when approaching a lender, know that they'll be looking to see if the devices you want to finance hold up well when it comes time to sell.

The BYOD and mobile workplace is quickly becoming the standard, whether or not finance departments are ready to foot the bill. By developing a strategy to adequately finance your firm's technology, you can make sure your employees have access to cutting-edge devices, and ensure that your proprietary data remains uncompromised.