Perhaps the most disconcerting area to cover around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for me as writer has been the finances and the billing. It’s been hard to find a solution for it, much less somebody who can speak to the issue in detail. Well, the time is now for both. I recently had a chance to speak with Christy Wyatt, Chairman and CEO of Good Technology to get a current picture of split billing for BYOD and corporate-owned devices. Her company is adding to their Good Dynamics Platform to offer their customers a solution for managing mobile data for BYOD and corporate-owned devices.

Good Technology’s broad operational footprint (they are in over 190 countries) means they helped many companies deploy corporate mobile and BYOD programs. Wyatt told me her company began to analyze what was causing friction for these organizations.

Split billing isn’t all about the money

Wyatt related that the friction didn’t seem to be all about technology. She relates,

“There was a clear path, yet a lot of organizations would get a little slow when rolling out to new waves of users especially in Europe.”

“It wasn’t technology so what were some of the critical issues around privacy,” according to Wyatt. “There’s lots of reluctance especially in EMEA [Europe Middle East Asia] to use not like a Good platform but a traditional MDM due to privacy concerns.”

“What did seem to be happening in these organizations is that generally HR and legal would start participating in the conversation and the discussion had nothing to do with applications we want that user to use and how to make them productive,” Wyatt recalls. “They were more around if we are giving them a $50.00 stipend towards his data bill is that a taxable benefit? Who’s legally liable for the data if that employee uses some of that $50.00 to download ‘naughty bits’ and does something wrong? Am I liable for that? Is he liable for that?”

Another lingering concern were companies allowed to remote wipe all or certain parts of data from personal devices if they weren’t paying for the data.

“There was what I call all this non-technology conversation around this what is the right balance,” Wyatt offers. “If we can balance the security and the privacy it seems like it would be an opportunity for us to help out reduce some of the friction around the data. It seemed to be who was paying the bill.”

Good’s holistic solution to split billing

Good Technology announced in June that they were doing some development work int the area of split billing and building out some related third-party partnerships. Wyatt explains their split billing approach, “Think of it as ‘sponsored data.’ If your employer tells you if you want to use your personal phone or tablet for work, just go download the Good application.”

There are multiple SKUs planned for the split billing solution, so I would look for more definite information about how it treats data usage around launch time.

Good acquired an innovative company called Macheen, and have integrated the technology into the Good Dynamics platform. Wyatt told me that Good Technology made the technology integration last year and the solution is in trial with customers right now.

“The Good application includes the data it’s using so the company is paying for the cost of the data as part of the cost of the software,” Wyatt explains. “So it’s not showing up on the employee’s bill and not showing up on the enterprise bill. That’s the first.”

“The second is if we are going to give users a whole bunch of applications then how do we do proper split billing which means at the end of the month maybe the company gets billed for the data it’s asking the employee to use and the employee pays for their own data,” according to Wyatt.

“It can also work in the inverse,” explains Wyatt. “Let’s say I’m going to give you a device, Corporate Owned Personally Enabled I’m going to pay the whole bill, but I’m not going to pay for your Netflix addiction. If you want to continue to watch ‘House of Cards’. There’s a way I can sort of chargeback to an employee based on the data they are using.”

I came to the split billing topic trying to relate it to telecom expense management. Wyatt told me that it’s driven less by telecom expense management but more by if the virtual enterprise platform had its own virtual data plan, then there’s very clean lines drawn.

“The company is managing, provisioning, securing, and paying for all of the data and the experience in those particular containers,” Wyatt adds. “What the user does on the rest of the device is their own business. We can’t see it. We don’t pay for it. It’s completely clean.”

When I asked Wyatt about the 2014 California court ruling about BYOD, she responded that it’s just a data point amongst many she’s encountered around split billing. She points to conversations the company has been having in Europe during the past two years.

Future applications of the technology

Wyatt states, “Another interesting use case for this technology, a large school district gave a bunch of tablets and a bunch of the kids took the tablets home and deleted the MDM profile.”

“If we applied this technology, it’s possible we could lock the device to communicate only with the application,” Wyatt proposes. Other apps wouldn’t be able to communicate with the network. The connectivity is hardwired.”

“There’s a lot of flexibility about how you could look at a technology like this,” Wyatt adds “It could be a BYOD enabler. It could also be a corporate device enabler.”

Wyatt also says the technology might be able to lock down mobile devices to communicate only with a Good application-enabled data connection.

Final thoughts

Wyatt and Good Technology see the primary focus is getting clarity on the lines the enterprise lives within the user space. The time is now for the intelligent management and disbursement of BYOD stipends. It’s encouraging to see Good Technology is seizing on an issue holistically that some enterprises are only beginning to address.

Will Kelly was a contributor to The Mobility Hub, a site sponsored by Good Technology, from 2012 to 2014.