Devices coming out of your ears?
I’m sure loads of people think the same. Why have I got a Blackberry *and* and iPhone jangling around in my pockets? Isn’t it both inconvenient and a serious waste of money and resources? I’d much prefer it if I could just use my iPhone for work as well as the rest of my life. And I use my laptop at home alot for work – why can’t I just bring it in with me to the office?
And, what about tablet devices, like iPad? I’m sure you could build a very long list of immediate productivity gains involving key tools like email, calendar, video production and Skype calls, along with opening up people’s minds to how it could and should be in the future, creating demand for change. Even with enterprise systems as they are, being able to type up field notes and paste them into a creaking case management system, or maybe save off a voice file or picture to the corporate shared drive (if you haven’t yet got Huddle or similar) – ok, that would start to save plenty of time. Staff would get a real feel for the possible too, and creativity would blossom.
But what about government security I hear (some of) you cry. Well it turns out that CESG, the UK Government’s National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, has said that iOS6 is secure enough for RESTRICTED (personal sensitive) data. Mark O’Neill, Head of Innovation and Delivery at the Government Digital Service, is helping me confirm what exactly they’ve said and where the guidance is. HMRC are rolling out 7,000 devices including iPad (at the lower level of data called PROTECT or “IL2”) at the moment.
Sticking with iPads, then, for the sake of argument, assuming that it’s possible to integrate, secure and deploy them (and it appears so) then the question comes – how might we start to resolve this problem of work Vs life devices and save a shed load of cash to boot?
I’ve got a nice mountain bike that I get to work on. I “hired” it through the cycle-to-work scheme, which is a salary sacrifice deal where you pay for the bike before tax from your salary, through instalments over a contract term with your employer. In theory at the end of the “loan period”, you have to buy the bike from your employer, at a very low “used” cost (13% of the purchase price after two years). I use my bike during the day to get around town to meetings, saving quite a lot on company expenses. I maintain the bike and pay for replacement parts. It’s essentially mine from day one, but it’s convenient to use it for work too.
HMRC have this handy Expenses & Benefits A-Z guide, which tells us about Computers loaned to an employee. It says that if a device is loaned to an employee for both work and private use then only Class 1A National Insurance is due (13.8%).
Government Device Store
Different scenarios need working through around the construction of the scheme, which would probably include the 3G contract that sends staff mobile. Maybe rather than the ownership being clearly with the employee as above (where they go off to a participating high street store and buy the device), the organisation (or group of organisations) have access to buy/rent devices from a government “Device Store” at a discounted (bulk) cost (and excluding VAT). Employees could then rent their personal use of the device for a sum per month as a salary sacrifice. A two year period for a device is probably about right. At the end of the period, a new device would be ordered up and the infrastructure folk could drop the old device off the network and that would probably be it.
And of course, if you’re like me and would like some decent devices but just can’t afford them, this may well be the way to get there. (I pay monthly for my iPhone).
Let’s see what Government Digital Service makes of this and I’d welcome any comments.
— Mark O’Neill (@marxculture) February 15, 2013