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Saying “Yes” to User choice

February 20, 2015

We think we have found a solution to a common problem that all organisations face. As the technology industry produces more and more innovative, mobile devices (like tablets, smartphones, phablets, wearable technology – in all their millions of variations), every user wants something different. And they want more. More flexibility, more devices, more choice.

We give them choice and cap costs with our “points” scheme. Devices are assigned nominal points based on total costs. Privately owned devices attract far fewer points than corporately procured ones.  Users have 24 points to play with and can have whatever devices they want within their limit.

It’s a good mix of technology innovation and policy that enables us to say “yes” to user choice.

Points for user choices

Note: Glossary below

This solution has lots of advantages:

– It maximises user choice.

– It caps corporate cost.

– It encourages users to try BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

– It places the decision making away from corporate IT and with the user and their cost centre manager, where it belongs.

The next device innovation can easily and quickly be incorporated. For example, say wearable technology suddenly takes off and my users want to see their work emails in their glasses. So long as that works with the secure BYOD solution, I’ll be quick to say “Yes”.

The challenge

Gone are the days when the corporate IT department could define standard user types and issue them with standard and limited mobile devices. Two people doing exactly the same role may now want and need quite different devices. That’s because what they use at home offers them choice, they want the same choice at work. To do their job to the best of their abilities, one may want an iPad and a smartphone. Another may want a laptop.

Some really only want to use Apple kit and some want to use Windows or Android – because that’s what they are familiar with from their other walks of life. People get quite passionate about this and if you give them something they don’t want and have not chosen, they will always find fault with it. Which drives up cost and drives down customer satisfaction.

So the users want more, and want more choice – but the finance director wants the total cost to be less. Even BYOD comes with a small cost. That’s the challenge.

The solution

Not all of the solution rests with allowing people to “bring your own device” (BYOD). Some people will simply not do that because they strongly believe the employer should provide the kit. Even though they buy their own pens, cars, clothes and other paraphernalia they use at work. They will therefore not be as effective at work as they might otherwise be. Also BYOD brings its own costs – for licensing, support and infrastructure.

There is a bigger solution, beyond and incorporating BYOD.

At Solihull, we have introduced a “Choices” scheme. First we implemented two secure technologies that deliver BYOD. One is a quick and simple access to key information needs. (We are proud that Solihull is one of the first Good for Enterprise public sector innovators)  The other gives a full desktop experience but requires the user to spend more time with authentication. Users can choose which one they prefer, or have both.

Then we agreed that the organisation would buy users mobile devices, if they would not be using BYOD. And we set up a way of capping the cost that the organisation incurs from offering more choice.

The solution allocates each device type a number of “points”.  It also allocates each BYOD device type a number of points. BYOD devices have much fewer points than corporately procured devices. Users have a capped number of points from which they can make their choices.

The table above shows how it works. The users each have 24 points to play with. If you want a corporate laptop and a corporate smartphone, you have not got enough points for a corporate tablet as well. But if you want to bring your own laptop and bring your own smartphone, we’ll buy you a tablet if you want one – and your cost centre manager approves.

The cost centre manager sometimes needs some help making the right decision. When a person asks for a corporate device, even if it is within their points allowance, we will question them closely on exactly what they will use it for, where they will use it, when they will use it – and only agree to the purchase if it is the right piece of kit for their job requirements. We’re in the business of minimising Council spend on IT, and maximising return on investment – not just capping spend.



With a securely managed, cost controlled and leadership encouraged approach to BYOD; its good to be the IT department that says “yes”.



BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. A privately owned device (laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device) that has security software running to enable it to safely access the corporate network.

COPE: Corporately Owned, but Privately Enabled. A device which accesses the corporate network as though it was a BYOD device.

YODAH: Your Own Device At Home. Same as BYOD, but where the device is privately owned and always used from home.



  1. I like this approach in principle, as it allows an easy way to communicate requirements to the end user.

    There is, of course, the issue that the platform chosen may not meet the needs of the information being processed though; a good example in this is the approach to open standards – ODF is being mandated by government, but there is not a single mobile operating system that natively supports it. Even on the usual operating systems, you’d need to either install an open office suite, Cloud application (Google docs got full support late December last year) or Microsoft Office (which has only supported it since 2006!). That reinforces the point that the ability of the platform to support the needs of the organisation is crucial, a point often missed when we talk about compliance.

    I also feel that there is real merit in realising that there are three key components for information sharing:

    The endpoint – is it safe, does it support the functionality required for the organisation and can it connect to the right systems?

    The organisation – does it have a good maturity of information governance, undertaking all legal, regulatory and contractual obligations for information management?

    The network – is it safe and reliable?

    If we had the same points approach as detailed above in these key areas, it would make it much easier to establish the type of information sharing that the public sector so desperately needs.

    This is something close to my heart, and I am working on creating free tools to determine obligations and define common service language; maybe we’ll see the community-led approach started by local government lead to a revolution in how we share information and create a digital where appropriate agenda?

  2. I agree – this is a common sense approach that reflects the way in which people want to work. I have a slight concern about whether this will highlight the wide range of levels of digital literacy within organisations but to be honest this is a good thing as it needs flushing out and dealing with. The approach here is much more realistic in terms of technology being embedded in people’s lives – will be interesting to see how quickly other organisations move in this direction


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  1. Let’s deliver the real user need – safe not secure! | PSNGB
  2. PSNGB viewpoint: Let’s deliver the real user need – safe not secure! | Mantis Public Relations

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