Kraft tries ‘Bring Your Own Computer’ program

Posted May 11, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.

By Alejandra Cancino |
It started with the smartphones. Last year, Kraft Foods Inc. offered a
stipend to employees who wanted to use their own iPhone, Android or
BlackBerry and ditch their company-issued phone.

That idea gave way to the creation of the “Bring Your Own Computer”
program, in which the company gives some employees a “substantial”
stipend to buy a computer of their choice, said Ana Paula Cruz, a Kraft
spokeswoman. In turn, employees will solve their own problems with help
from blogs and discussion boards written by the company’s information
systems department.

Cruz said the program will give flexibility to thousands of U.S. salary
employees who don’t deal with sensitive or confidential information and
use a computer to perform their job.

“They can work at home if they need to or wherever they are,” Cruz said.

Steven Ostrowski, spokesman of CompTIA, a trade association based in Oakbrook Terrace, said this is the first time he’s heard about a company saying, “go ahead, buy a computer, use it to do your work stuff, but if you have problems you are on your own to fix it.”

“Some things you can do over the phone, some things you can do self-help and fix yourself, but there are times and  there are occasions when you need a technician to come and sit down with you face to face and actually take your PC apart if necessary and fix it,” Ostrowski said.

However, he said his main concern would be about security. Every year CompTIA does a security study, and the results are always the same.

“The thing we find is that the most common cause of security breach, small, medium or large, it doesn’t matter how severe, is an error from the person at the end of the computer,” Ostrowski said.

Ostrowski said CompTIA would recommend a comprehensive, security policy with teeth, so that everybody uses it.

Cruz said Kraft is giving employees a security software and rigorous guidelines to avoid problems. Though she hasn’t decided what computer she wants to buy, she said she got an iPhone last year with the company’s smartphone stipend.

If the program is successful, the company will give employees a computer stipend every three to four years, Cruz said.

What’s in it for Kraft? Some savings, “though not major numbers,” Cruz said. She declined to give an specific amount.

Mark Griesbaum, president of the Chicago Chapter of the Society for Information Management, said the company might just be trying to find a way to provide better and faster computer support for employees.

“It’s a different way of receiving support. They are all blogging and asking questions and people are helping them support their issues in a timely fashion,” Griesbaum said.

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  1. Robert Willilam Churchill May 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    This is an hilarious move on the part of Kraft. If the management thought they had complaints about the performance of IT in the past, they ain’t seen nothing yet. “Roll Your Own” employee IT programs fail; always have and always will.
    This is because the value in information is not in the “T” (technology) but in the “I” (information)and a rainbow approach to employee selected end user hardware and software equals a Digital Babel. Remember? These are people who failed to set the clocks on their old VCRs. The disrupted information flows and hours of lost time that will be swallowed up trying to consolidate information will grow exponentially. Kraft is about to be sucked down into the 9th circle of IT Hell with this strategy.
    Don’t be surprised when a breakfast weenie shows up in your blueberry danish. (They must have put a marketing person in charge of IT over there. Bogus Maximus)

  2. Linda May 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Are you kidding me? Kraft doesn’t want to commit to employees enough to outfit them with technology? Technology that has many people working practically 24/7? Wow! I’m glad my company believes in their team enough to outfit them with the tools needed to perform their jobs.

  3. den g. May 12, 2010 at 8:14 a.m.

    They care about their staff more then their workers. Not a happy bunch there.

  4. lago May 12, 2010 at 9:15 a.m.

    The idea sounded great till Kraft expected the employee to become their own tech support.
    More DYI (Do it yourself). Wait till their computers break down, has a virus and etc. and employees can’t work because they don’t have the money to pay for their own IT or they try to fix the problem themselves and make more of a mess.
    Companies still think they can take 1 person and make them do 3-5 different jobs… and expect them to be an expert at all 3-5. Sounds like they are saving money but in the long run they have less skill and burnt out employees that burn out.

  5. John May 12, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.

    Buying them with the money they have saved by firing people at Cadbury?

  6. Cynic May 12, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.

    Next ting ya know is dat Kraft is gonna make da employees cook food in dare own kitchens. Wheeeee!

  7. IknowIknowitall May 12, 2010 at 11:40 a.m.

    My guess is that the tech-savvy employees will constantly be involved in hand-holding and fire-fighting for the tech-challenged employees, and the time and productivity of two employees will be wasted.
    And that is preferable to having uniform hardware/software and a good tech support staff how? Frustrated employees are not productive employees.
    Phones are one thing; computers, their firewalls, their data, etc., are another. What a disaster in the making.
    Good luck to all.

  8. DanielMD May 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Some of the dumbest comments I have ever heard.
    Perhaps a little due diligence would be in order.
    Bring your Own PC Reinvents The Corporate PC: A Citrix Systems Case Study

  9. Richard Roth May 12, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    If I worked the helpdesk at Kraft there wouldn’t be enough money on the planet to make me stay.

  10. Big Dawg May 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    DanielMD, your due diligence is quite suspect. The “case study” is just a sales pitch for using Citrix client software that Forrester probably decided to write about after Citrix paid for it.
    Citrix client software can be very expensive and I would like to see an independent study comparing long-term costs/results using this approach as opposed to using standard company machine configuration.
    The majority of problems companies experience with their computers could easily be prevented if IT would simply lock down the O/S so that users cannot install or configure the computer any which way they want. Using profiles, it’s a very simple thing to do and most current software follows the rules so that a user does not have to be an administrator of their computer to run the stuff. I’ve seen too many sloppy IT departments spend countless hours correcting issues on computers that could have been prevented by not allowing users to mess it up in the first place.

  11. DanielMD May 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Big Dawg, the concept of BYOC and the example of the Citrix solution is not new. Major corporations have been doing this and more are getting on board.
    But the best example of how well it works is in the higher education arena. We have been doing this at our universities for some time now. Our computer labs and virtually every one across the country don’t have the luxury of supplying students computers. They must bring their own. And that holds true in virtually every other curriculum on the campus, and I might add with very few problems and without the concern you have or anybody else here is trying to raise.

  12. Apres Ski May 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    When those helpful on-the-job-employee techies get tired of the non-techies asking a million basic questions about stuff they should know, check out
    because they’re going to get tired & frustrated really, really fast!

  13. SourPatch May 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I would love my company to offer a plan like this. I work from home, so I support my laptop myself 99% of the time anyway.
    Dell, Gateway all offer support. Best Buy’s Geeksquad…etc can all help me locally. Calling my company’s 800 IT help number is better than a local shop that actually knows my laptop how???
    Only thing my companies IT helps with is resetting my passwords for VPN…etc as they expire. Or getting an email reminding us to upgrade virus software versions. Otherwise I have no contact with my IT dept…and would prefer to own/keep/determine the laptop I use, and like to use it as I please for myself personally as well.

  14. Michael Pinkston May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    The cell phone idea makes perfect sense to me and I have been using my own computer equipment at work and home for many years.  Not everyone is ready to cut the support cord and after reviewing the article’s on-line comments, there are a lot of people willing to fight to keep the status quo.  Its sad really but there should be choices available especially as new people come into the organizations.  Some people are ready to take off the training wheels, some people aren’t.