Keeping Up with BYOD


BYOD BlackBerry

Few acronyms are freighted with the baggage of BYOD, the Kim Kardashian of enterprise mobility. An object of both love and loathing, BYOD demands your attention and shows no signs of abating in popularity.

Despite its near omnipresence, though, BYOD is a bit of an enigma. In an industry that thrives on categorization and taxonomy, BYOD has eluded precise labeling.

BYOD Defined

Is Bring Your Own Device a movement, a philosophy, an enterprise mobility management strategy?

It’s a bit of all three, opines market research firm Ovum, which recently produced a white paper advising CIOs on adopting device management strategies that best fit the needs of their organizations. The BlackBerry-sponsored report, Beyond BYOD: How Businesses Might COPE with Mobility, positions BYOD as primarily a set of user behaviors.

Ovum’s research indicates that BYOD originated from a desire by knowledge workers to do some of their daily business tasks outside of the office, using the same device for personal computing and communications. Of the corporations that issued smartphones in the early days of BYOD, many prohibited them from being used for personal communications.

More Choices

But the device management landscape has expanded over the past couple of years. Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) and Corporate-Owned, Personally-Enabled (COPE) now fit between business-only and BYOD on the device management spectrum. For many enterprises, COPE provides IT with the means to accommodate the behavioral drivers of BYOD, while delivering levels of control, security and compliance not normally associated with wide-open BYOD policies.

As the Ovum report points out, a key step in the adoption of a device management strategy is discovering the workforce’s attitude toward device ownership. Would employees be receptive to a company-issued device of their choice for both work and personal computing and communications? A solid majority would, according to an Ovum-conducted survey of more than 4,000 business users. The results strongly suggest that a COPE approach to mobility could find favor among many businesses.

BlackBerry, BYOD, EMM, Ovum, MDM

Which begs the question: Why would businesses want to assume the expense of supplying end users with mobile end points when many are willing to use their personal smartphones and tablets for work?

That questioned is laden with the implication that a BYOD device management approach is less expensive than a corporate-owned strategy, such as COPE. The reality is that it is – and isn’t.

Financial Debate

Perhaps the most Kardashian quality of the BYOD movement is a lack of depth, which leads to a considerable amount of conclusion jumping. BYOD scenarios that call for employees to assume 100% of the expense of operating mobile devices for work can assist businesses in cutting down telecom costs. But that scenario is rare. Businesses frequently reimburse employees for work-related computing and communications expenses, often at a higher rate than if they had a business tariff direct with the carrier.

Even if you concede the expense debate, though, you’re still left with plenty of reasons to consider a corporate-liable approach to mobility:

Management Complexity. An unfettered approach to BYOD means supporting potentially hundreds of device and platform options. Unless you limit support to a manageable number of devices, your enterprise mobility efforts will remain in a reactive state, rather than a strategic one.

Greater Control: There’s no stopping some employees from trying to access corporate data with personal devices. But a COPE approach provides IT with much greater insight than BYOD about which devices are holding sensitive information.

Regulatory & Legal Compliance: Regulatory requirements for mobility seem to grow daily and the legal boundaries related to privacy and labor are still being drawn. For the most part, audits are easier and lawsuits less frequent if the business owns the device.

Augmenting BYOD

BYOD isn’t going anywhere. For many organizations, it’s a perfectly reasonable and effective way to address some of their enterprise mobility needs – provided they deploy a multi-platform EMM solution to manage, secure and control personal smartphones and tablets, as well as the data and apps they hold.

But as enterprise mobility matures and grows increasingly strategic to your business’s bottom line, your organization may benefit from a device management strategy that delivers most of the appeal of BYOD with little of the risk.

About Joe McGarvey

An Enterprise Mobility Strategist at BlackBerry, McGarvey has covered the enterprise and telecommunications industries for more than 20 years as both a journalist and analyst. He is best-known as a long-time principal analyst at leading market research firm Current Analysis. McGarvey has also been an analyst for Heavy Reading and an editor at several leading technology magazines.

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