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
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.