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Non-profit cuts costs with BYOD

Compassion Australia sought to reduce its phone bill and answer employee demand for iPhone and Android

Compassion Australia has saved thousands of dollars since shifting to a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) mobile strategy, according to the non-profit organisation's systems administrator of projects, Blessing Matore.

Compassion is a Christian non-profit devoted to child development and advocacy. In August, the organisation met a 10-year goal of reaching 100,000 children living in poverty around the world. The non-profit has about 130 staff in Australia with a head office in Newcastle and regional offices in Sydney, Queensland, Perth and Melbourne.

Compassion mostly uses mobile devices for calls and email, Matore said. Before moving to BYOD, the non-profit provided users with BlackBerry devices and managed them with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform.

“That was working well until the iPhones and the [Android smartphones] came along and we started having a bit of pressure from the users wanting to use the new devices.”

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Besides answering demand from employees, the non-profit saw an opportunity in BYOD to reduce costs, Matore said. Under BYOD, the organisation now provides employees with a monthly allowance. As a result, it doesn’t have to pay for additional costs or overages a user may have.

The allowance ranges between $60 and $120 depending on the employee’s role. If the bill goes over that amount, “it’s on them,” Matore said.

The move to BYOD has saved Compassion Australia at least $8000 per year, Matore said. Taking into account money potentially saved from not paying unplanned extra charges, “it might even be double that,” he said.

After deciding to do BYOD, the non-profit searched for a tool that could manage multiple kinds of devices easily and without great expense. Matore said he looked at AirWatch and MobileIron as possible vendors for mobile device management (MDM), but chose AirWatch because it provided a discount for non-profits and came with a strong recommendation from Gartner.

It wasn’t difficult to transition to the BYOD platform “because the only thing we really had to focus on at the time was making sure users had access to email,” Matore said.

Employees now use one device for both work and play, Matore said. “To them, the work part of the event is only emails. The rest of the device is personal to them.”

Management had worries about giving up control of the mobile devices, and staff voiced privacy questions about whether calls or messages would be monitored, Matore said. “So we had to come up with a policy” with clearly written rules, he said.

The non-profit asked users to sign a MDM policy explaining that “it’s your personal device and this is what AirWatch allows us to monitor on that device,” he said.

Compassion allows users to install whatever app they like on the device. However, the non-profit reserves the right to wipe data and lock or track the device if it is lost or stolen, he said.

Lingering security concerns have kept Compassion from giving users’ devices access to more than corporate email, Matore said.

“It’s not yet clear cut with BYOD as far as security is concerned,” Matore said. “Because we’re not very confident about security at this point, we don’t allow those devices on our corporate network.”

While the BYOD initiative has focused on smartphones, the AirWatch mobile management platform also supports about 10 Apple iPads, Matore said. The non-profit is currently looking at Windows 8 tablets, and is waiting specifically for the Microsoft Surface Pro, he said.

“We are familiar with Windows and how it operates,” he said. “We don’t have much depth in terms of iOS skills.”

Windows 8 tablets would integrate better than iPad with the enterprise network, he said. “There’s hope that it will seamlessly integrate with SharePoint and people can still access the Internet and document management system on the road.”

In addition, Matore said he feels more confident about securing a Windows computer. “We’re not too sure about security on the [iOS] devices.”

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More about: AirWatch, AirWatch, Apple, BlackBerry, Gartner, Microsoft, MobileIron
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