(p. A7) Corporate technology managers usually pick laptops, software and other technology for employees. Now some tech managers are finding workers can do a better job when they choose and buy the equipment themselves.
At KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, a unit of Air France-KLM SA, employees had expressed frustration at the company’s policy of providing and supporting only one type of laptop, the Lenovo A30 (formerly IBM), and one smartphone, the Nokia 6021. Last November, Martien van Deth, a senior technology officer in the Amsterdam office, tried a new system: He gave 50 information-technology staffers an allowance of $203, covering two years, to buy cellphones for corporate use. Those who picked more expensive phones paid the extra. Those who chose cheaper phones kept the change. As long as the phone ran Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile version 5 or 6 operating system, KLM guaranteed access to corporate email. The catch: Users had to deal with technical problems themselves and replace phones that broke.
Not only did the program cost less than the $231 the company paid (p. A9) for phones and support over the same period, it was a hit with employees — some of whom bought phones with fancy ringtones and video players. Now "no one can complain that their corporate phone doesn’t have a camera," says Mr. van Deth, who plans to offer a tech allowance to KLM’s entire 1,000-person IT department later this summer, and wants to take the program companywide. He’s also about to start a tech-allowance program for laptops.
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