How to Understand Corporate-Liable vs. Individual-Liable Mobile Assets

As enterprise adoption of smartphones with converged voice and data mobile services increases, many businesses adopt individual-liable programs to cut mobile costs and avoid the tax compliance tracking requirements associated with corporate-liable mobile devices. But switching from a corporate-liable to an individual-liable approach can negatively impact business operations. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Albert Subbloie offers six recommendations to help enterprises navigate the fine line between corporate mobility and liability management.


As the adoption rate of mobile smartphones continues to rise and these devices become essential tools for the enterprise work force, IT departments are often tasked with managing and supporting hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile devices. Since the economic downturn, however, businesses have been pressured to make immediate, cost-cutting decisions regarding communications budgets. Many businesses have decided that significant money can be saved by having employees own their mobile devices.

They have, therefore, adopted what is known as an individual-liable (IL) program-employee-owned devices-to cut enterprise mobile costs and avoid the tax compliance tracking requirements associated with company-owned or corporate-liable (CL) mobile devices. In fact, according to a recent survey, 34 percent of respondents with a CL program indicated that they are considering switching to an IL program.

Some argue that migrating from CL to IL does more than just save the company money. Many believe that giving employees the ability to choose their own device based upon their own needs and preferences can boost productivity.

While the IL option can garner some immediate savings for the enterprise and achieve a higher level of productivity on the part of some individual workers, it is not without its corporate risks. Not all devices are created equal in their ability to be managed by the enterprise; short-term cost and time-savings can mask logistical and security vulnerabilities.

Organizations that adopt an IL approach without being properly prepared in terms of technology and management strategy may be left to sort out a complicated enterprise mobility scheme that could be costly on many fronts. That is because, in the long run, the issue of ownership is secondary to what happens when a mobile device is connected to the corporate network.