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Author's profile photo Alison Welch

What’s in a Number? Dealing with Phone Number Ownership

We have talked much about BYOD (bring-your-own-device) strategies revolving around securing data on employee owned devices as well as the mobility management infrastructure needed to monitor, maintain, and support an environment of diverse devices from multiple carriers. And in order to do that, you must have a good mobility management platform has to be device agnostic, allow for the segregation of business and personal uses on the device, and supports rigorous end-to-end security … then one can see they are overcoming the challenges presented by a BYOD approach. Wait, there is an aspect of BYOD that may be why some companies refrain from adopting BYOD for all their employees. Who owns the phone number.

Why is this so important? An article published at earlier this year does a great job of summarizing the essential issues. In a nutshell, it comes down to this: Phone numbers are the way people reach people. If a person leaves the company and they take their mobile phone number with them, they effectively take their business contacts with them as well. For some categories of employees, this is not a major issue. However for others, particularly those in sales and marketing, it can be a huge concern. Those contacts are proprietary to the company, and they represent a valuable asset.

The Clunky Solution: Assign a work number to the employee that call forwards to their mobile device, that number becomes their business number.

The Have Your Cake and Eat it Too Solution: A better way is a slight variation of BYOD called “choose your own device (CYOD). With CYOD, employees choose the device they wish to use as their work device. The main difference between BYOD and CYOD is that the company owns the device and the account. When the employee leaves, that account (and the number associated with it), stays with the company.

Advantages of CYOD are similar, employee satisfaction, lower training costs and opportunities for mobility cost sharing that make BYOD so appealing. Also, the user’s personal mobile experience need not necessarily be limited if they have a CYOD device. In the same way the business and personal uses can be completely segregated on a BYOD device through the use of app containers, this strategy can also work on CYOD devices. In that way an employee with a CYOD device can use it as a personal device without threatening the integrity of the business data and functions on the device. It’s also possible for companies to manage a hybrid BYOD-CYOD strategy where BYOD works for most employees, but if you are a certain category of employee (someone in marketing, sales or an exec), you fall under the CYOD rules.  

What’s in a number?  Phone number ownership is a significant consideration when planning form employee owned and managed devices. However a good device management strategy supported by and enterprise grade mobility platform can minimize the risks.

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