Split-Billing Heating Up

by Matthew Hopkins | 07/31/2015

A Growing Importance

Split-billing, the process by which mobile phone charges are divided based on certain criteria and paid separately by the employee and employer, is a capability that is increasingly attractive due to consumerization trends. Companies providing mobile solutions to employees face a growing challenge in identifying and separating corporate and personal use; this is especially difficult in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or corporate-owned, privately enabled (COPE) environment. The issue remains divisive, with some employers expecting employees to pay for all mobile use—both corporate and personal—while others have implemented stipends, corporate phone plans, or reimbursements for corporate use. All of these methods have evident drawbacks, often forcing either the employee or employer to pay a disproportionate amount of the mobile costs. This issue became even more relevant in August of 2014 when the California Court of Appeals decided in Colin Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Incthat if employees must use their cell phone for work-related calls, then they must be reimbursed a reasonable portion of their cell phone bill. Under this ruling, companies in California will need to implement a strategy for reimbursement if they have employees using mobile devices for business purposes; failure to do so could result in costly litigation.

While California Labor Code Section 2802 may be unique in its wording and differ from labor codes in other states (with the possible exception being Massachusetts), the ruling could set a precedent that will entail a more national focus. In this vein, VDC urges companies who are moving forward in implementing BYOD policies to develop defensible ways to reimburse their employees. Unfortunately, split-billing technology by and large does not adequately address the needs of companies; however, some vendors have made significant progress in developing solutions that will solve employer mobile billing headaches.

Solutions Remain Few and Far Between

VDC Research has identified seven key players in the split-billing space and analyzed their solutions to determine which vendors will likely have the most success going forward.

  • AT&T: The company's attempts to develop a split-billing solution have come in fits and starts. While AT&T’s Toggle solution has continued to evolve along with the company’s AT&T Work platform, the company has yet to deliver a fully functional product (thus far).
  • BlackBerry: The acquisition of Movirtu in 2014 gave BlackBerry the technology to develop its WorkLife solution which elegantly separates voice, SMS, and data(Samsung is also participating in this market via its partnership with BlackBerry).
  • Good Technology: By acquiring Macheen last October, Good has been able to quickly build a split billing solution that separates corporate app data usage from personal activity.
  • Movius: The company’s CAFÉ (Communications Applications Framework Engine) platform enables service providers with a means of quickly deploying applications to complement their core functionality of enabling users to have separate personas and different phone numbers for voice, messaging, and data (Movius has partnered with virtualization specialist Cellrox for this capability).
  • Mast Mobile: The company leverages Oracle’s billing and revenue management solution to provide a unique and comprehensive solution that allows an employer to implement split-billing for voice, messaging, and data. Founded in 2013, Mast is a young company and is quickly evolving its solution to include stronger enterprise-grade features.
  • OpenPeak: The company recently secured a patent in January for its split-billing technology. The technology enables companies to pay separately for data used through secure or enterprise applications in a container. OpenPeak white-labels this technology to AT&T.
  • Syntonic: Like Mast, Syntonic is also a young company (founded in 2013). The company’s DataFlex platform provides core split-billing and data usage analytics capabilities.

Foreseeable Change in the Near Future

As BYOD and COPE trends continue to grow and companies evolve their mobile initiatives and implement new applications, VDC expects demand for split-billing solutions to increase. Enterprises have struggled to catch up to mobile technology and have focused primarily on ensuring the security of their data and finding use cases for the technology both in terms of increasing consumer engagement and improving employee productivity. The issue of paying employees for their mobile phone use has been largely overlooked, with many companies hoping to avoid the conversation altogether. However, with California’s court decision setting a strong precedent, this period of blissful ignorance is quickly drawing to a close.

Unfortunately, the solutions available to companies to effectively identify and split personal and corporate mobile use remain slim and incomplete. This is due largely to the heterogeneous nature of mobile devices and their operating systems, as well as the need to work with both the organization and telecommunications providers. Consequently, vendors in this space have developed unique technologies that offer vastly different experiences and varying levels of split-billing competency.

The vendors, broadly categorized, fall into three categories: EMM providers, telecommunications providers, and split-billing-first providers. Firms that fall into the first two categories have largely either partnered with other companies with split-billing capabilities or acquired smaller firms with the technology to provide the solution. Predictably, split-billing-focused firms, while small, have had the most innovative solutions and have become acquisition targets for larger EMM and telecommunications providers looking to expand their offerings to compete with other firms who have developed the technology. VDC sees Mast Mobile and Movius as the best near-term targets for acquisition, given their comprehensive solutions, small size, and innovative technology. There is a broad range of vendors that that could fill the role of suitor, including Citrix, Microsoft, IBM, and VMware would all benefit by acquiring a split-billing solution as the capability would expand and complement these firms' mobile solution range. VDC expects rapid growth and consolidation in this small segment of the enterprise mobility market as companies look to further expand mobile initiatives while reigning in the costs.

VDC will take a deeper look at these trends in an upcoming VDC View. 

With Eric Klein and Kathryn Nassberg

View the 2017 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.


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