Monday, August 12, 2013

BYOD to COPE: The Mobility Spectrum

This is part 2 of our look at mobile policy strategy and the great mobility debate. Be sure to read the first post, "BYOD vs Standardization - Understanding Your Mobile Strategy," to explore device standardization.

Environment & History

Look around the office of 10 years ago, and you’d probably find basically the same place as today. Sure, we have better computers now, but those are basically the same boxes as before.  So, in terms of tech, what’s changed?  For that answer we need to look in our pockets.

10 years ago, if you needed your work email on the go, you got a Blackberry.  Spreadsheets Presentations?  ThinkPad.  Fast forward to now, and you probably have a device in your pocket that an do all of that, and faster.  Wireless devices - whether phone, tablet, laptop, or any of the hybrids in between - have become indispensable at work.

So how to balance the needs of a mobile business community with security concerns, financial overheads & employee morale?  If we imagine the different possible configurations on a graph, it might look something like this:

What are my Mobile device policy Options?

With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the risks of unmanaged devices accessing and housing company data are mitigated by IT implementing management controls.  When this happens on an employee’s device, it can negate the freedoms BYOD is championed for.    The amount of employee satisfaction drops sharply, due to feelings of being hijacked.  When implementing BYOD try not to mandate controls on the devices, but instead look to create data access controls. This will keep morale up and also productivity.

Using the COPE (Corporate-Owned Personally-Enabled) model, the sweet spot for installing management software and controls is larger.  Since the device (and mobile plan) is paid for by the company, and since employees can customize it to their liking,  most workers are more apt to graciously allow a moderate level of company management without that nagging feeling of being boxed in or watched over.

Further options

You’re not relegated to BYOD or COPE.  There are a plethora of other options you can explore them and find the best fit for your culture.  Here are a few:

  • CYOD (Choose Your Own Device)
    A liberated form of standardization, employees select a device from an approved list
  • CLEO (Corporate Liable, Employee Owned)
    Reverse BYOD, where employee owns hardware and company pays for service
  • BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud)
    Not a mobility policy itself, but can be used to augment an existing setup

Criteria for Deciding

All the above are really different configurations to the same end: accessing data ubiquitously. Company culture and data access needs will be major factors in deciding how to form a mobile policy.  Here are some points to consider when shaping yours.

  • What platforms can your IT staff support?
  • What level of data mobility does each employee group need (CRM, financial, legal, procedural, everything)?
  • What security requirements do you have for each type of data?
  • How valuable is data ubiquity to your workers?
  • How important is device freedom to your company culture?

Beyond these, there are bound to be company-specific criteria you’ll need to consider as well.  The best answer may end up being a full commitment for a specific model, or you may find choosing different models for different employee groups makes the most sense.  The point is to select the plan that best conforms to you.


As we all move forward into this tech-rich future, there will be new devices that again change the standard business paradigm.  To get the most out of these nascent capabilities, remaining aware of the full spectrum of options and how others are implementing them will be key to a future-ready company.

Part 3 of this series can be found here, "BYOD vs Standardization - SaaS makes it easy"

Luke Reynolds is a new member of Newmind's IT managed services team. Previously he worked with schools, not-for-profits, and businesses to help them acquire and deploy Google Chromebooks on the enterprise level.

Luke Reynolds enjoys writing, music, film, and any form of radical human expression. He's also a rabid proponent of Kalamazoo's local roller derby team, the Killamazoo Derby Darlins.