Enterprises urged to pay staff to use their own kit

Dilbert's unapproved laptop

According to analyst group Gartner, enterprises could make significant savings by paying staff to use their own laptops. The report suggested that a monthly payment of £47 per employee would be cost effective and attractive to staff. Gartner said that schemes that encourage staff to use their own laptops would reduce maintenance and support costs and improve productivity.

“The costs go down for the enterprise if the notebook is provided by the employee because the employee takes more responsibility fixing the computer I their own time”

the Gartner analyst is reported as saying.

This touched a sensitive nerve for me, given my own experience as a consultant. More often than not I’m compelled to use the ‘corporately approved’ hardware and software build for PC and laptops when I’m working at a client’s site, which usually means – at best – IE6 with no plug-ins, 3 versions back of Flash player and an obscure version of PDF reader. The only plus point is that Vista is not yet widely deployed. The transition from my personal laptop configuration to these corporate versions is like stepping back to medieval times (though in reality it’s probably no more 5 – 10 years). No more one-click access via my Firefox plug-in to my account for tagging useful web pages; no more one-click social bookmarking to Digg or Stumble; no more one-click saves to Google Notebook.

I get the impression that any whiff of user productivity is sniffed out by these ICT departments and vigorously stamped out, as a recent experience would seem to reinforce. A short time ago I managed to install the Google toolbar on my corporate PC. All was well for a couple of weeks, and then I got one or two obscure messages from the virus checking software. I made the mistake of calling the IT support desk, who soon sussed that I had installed the toolbar (shock, horror), and wanted to arrange an appointment for a techy to visit my desk and remove it. Needless to say I haven’t returned these calls, and have so far managed to dodge the IT security police. In the meantime, I can save a few seconds each time I want to do a Google search by using the toolbar. But then again, a few seconds saved for each search mounts up to a few minutes each day and maybe even a few hours each month. Multiply this across several hundred employees and you begin to wonder if the inmates are running the asylum!

Perhaps one day (but unfortunately not in my life time), these ICT departments will begin to understand the business needs of the enterprise and provide the services that will contribute towards the business and user productivity. Devolving ownership and responsibility to users for their own PCs and laptops is probably a step too far for most enterprises, but I remain hopeful that it will happen one day. On that note I will hastily finish – I think I see an IT person approaching looking for a rogue laptop!


  1. Matthew Rees said:

    I worked at a consultancy once where you had to provide your own laptop (and mobile) so that they could keep their costs down, not just the purchasing and support but also the administration. In return they offered a (very) competitive salary so using your own kit was no big deal.

    I now find myself in the opposite situation. My home PC died recently and with two work PCs (employer and client) I decided not to replace it. Everything is in the cloud these days so why get a PC when your employer provides one?

    July 10, 2008
  2. Steve Dale said:

    Hi Matthew,

    this would be tolerable for me provided I had some control over what applications I could use on the employer PC. For example, I use iTunes on my own laptop, but this is not permitted on the corporate laptops. If all you need is in the cloud (and you’re permitted to get at it) then your example makes perfect sense. I’m still some way from having everything I need and use available in the cloud.

    July 10, 2008
  3. sandrar said:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    September 10, 2009
  4. Steve Dale said:

    Hi Sandra – many thanks for your kind words.


    September 11, 2009

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