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The Cure For The BYOD Blues?

Just under 15,000.  That’s the number of miles United Airlines tells me I have traveled in the last 2 1/2 weeks.  Not the best excuse, but really the only one I have for not having shared any missives with you on a regular basis during this time period.  Miracle of miracles, I am not traveling for four entire calendar days…so maybe I can get back on a roll here.

I was talking to a broad range of people over the last couple of weeks, and as the main theme of my missives have been recently, they continue to struggle with how to handle their employees wanting to bring their personal mobile devices into the workplace.  In fact, I was on a webinar yesterday and the number one concern that came up around mobile devices was security.  Security is obviously even more difficult to handle when you are not in control of the access points…meaning when you don’t control/own the devices.  This is of course why you still see certain companies require their employees to use company provided BlackBerry devices.  Problem is, more and more people want their iPhones/iPads and Android devices…and heck, you may even find the lone wolf out there who might want a Windows Phone or continue to have a BlackBerry device.  This is why so many IT managers have the BYOD blues.

So let’s take a quick step back if you don’t mind to think about why companies even allowed individually liable devices in the first place.  It was all about cost….reducing OpEx during the (continuously) challenging times we are facing.  The problem is, most companies only went half way.  What I mean to say is that they decided to allow their employees to purchase their own hardware, but they continued to pay for most if not all of the service plans.  That makes little sense to me, particularly when you think about the fact that by having ceded ownership rights to the devices, they have created a new problem in terms of trying to convince their employees that they should have the right to “snoop in” on their devices via EMM solutions.  Ah yes, the proverbial tug of war between IT and the employees.

So let me first throw out this idea.  I think that if companies are going to allow employees to bring in their own devices to work, why on earth would they even pay for any of the monthly contract?  If it’s to lower OpEx, then I say go all the way and eliminate it completely from the equation.  There you go….you’ve reduced your monthly mobility service costs to nill.  Your CFO will be happy.  The problem is you still need to manage those devices and the corporate data.  If you pull a Seinfeld and say “No reimbursement for you!” you’ll get even more push back than you are getting now.  So what if I suggested you take the opposite approach?

Yup….I said it.  I say go fully corporate owned…with one slight caveat.  If your organization owns all the devices and pays for the entire service plan, I suspect it will be a lot easier to make your employees understand that the devices will need to be managed.  Additionally, you’ll have far better leverage when negotiating with the carriers around rate plans and device renewals/replacements.  But here’s the one caveat.  Let your employees pick whatever device they want.  Let them pick their favorite Android, iOS or even BlackBerry or Windows Phone device….let them have anything they want.  In exchange, you get to leverage your enterprise mobility management solution on your property and they can still do whatever they want (assuming it’s in line with your mobility policy) and then we can all come away happy and you don’t have the headaches of dealing anymore with the BYOD dilemma.

That was easy, wasn’t it?


  1. Posted December 8, 2011 at 15:33 | Permalink

    This has been my agruement the whole time.

    If your going to stay fully CL. There is no cheaper device to procure and manage then Blackberry. Soon as you move beyond needing EAS controls the MDM costs are double if not more for other platforms. Considering that RIM provides a 100% free solution in Blackberry server express it’s a no brainer.

    Now the other side is employees want choice and the gadget of the moment. This is where you need strong executive backing on what exactly are you procuring mobile devices for? If your company strategy for mobile is limited to email and voice. Blackberry fits that nicely. The old “Blackberry browser blows” is gone with BB OS 7 so your down to “Blackberry doesn’t have X app I like”. I’m sorry but if you want to use Apps – do it on your own dime. This is how our BYOT model is setup and I’m not surprised most people decide to just use what is provided by the company to do their job. We don’t ask people what laptop / desktop they would like, if you want to manage mobile (and it’s costs) this is no different.

    CL gives you full control over the device and in our pilots with CL iPad and iPhone once our security and compliance areas submit all they want restricted – the device has limited appeal.

    Both sides want to have their cake and eat it too. Companies want to lower expense AND have control. Employees want to have no security AND use whatever they want – regardless of any security / compliance controls that need to be enforced.

    This will continue to be argued for years sadly. Every company is different and needs to weigh the pro’s and con’s of BYOD and either accept it or stick with CL.

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    • Posted December 9, 2011 at 08:59 | Permalink

      But MobileAdmin – people don’t want the BlackBerry (as evidenced by their slump in sales). My point is give them what they want…but own it so you can control it such that they can’t complain when you manage it.

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      • Posted December 9, 2011 at 09:09 | Permalink

        They don’t want the Blackberry because their “wants” having little to do with corporate usage. I don’t want the company car to be a ford taraus either. CL doesn’t work like that. As I mentioned the whole “The Blackberry can’t do what I want arguement” is going away as RIM fill the holes in their OS. The OS 7 Blackberry devices match functionality and in some cases surpass other platforms for core business usage. The fact remains you can deploy 2 if not 3 Blackberrys for the cost of say an iPhone.

        I get the whole personal perference and the fact there are some nice Apps on iOS/Android that have not been ported to Blackberry but it’s not like Blackberry has no Apps. Much of this shift is people want one device to serve both worlds and it’s never really been pulled off. Its possible but is not clean and there are sacrfices with privacy, functionality etc.

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  2. Posted December 9, 2011 at 08:40 | Permalink

    I agree with your basic premise, but I think that everyone keeps getting tangled in the “one size fits all” issue. A significant portion of mobility is about flexibility and freedom, which means that there will not be an absolute solution for anyone but the most fringe use cases. Now that I have that caveat out of the way…

    I think that there is a very instructive parallel from the Internet Technology wave. At the beginning of the internet I paid for my employees to have an internet conection at home. I did this because it was new, it was used primarily for work and/or was a perk. Today we only pay for the internet connection at home if there is a special circumstance and employees don’t expect it to be paid for since they use the connection for much more than work and want control of the service (natually they would take a stipend if offered, but they would not give up control).

    I believe that employee owned devices will and should go exactly the same way. That doesn’t mean that there will not be any corporate owned devices because they are not mutually exclusive. I still believe that you will see the following in the Enterprise by the end of 2015:

    1) 150% Penetration of smart devices connecting to enterprise data
    2) Smartphones: 80% employee owned and 20% corporate owned
    3) Tablets & Other: 80% corporate owned and 20% employee owned

    There will be plenty of fringe cases that will deviate from the norm, just as we already see certain industries deviate from these norms.

    This is why I view the EL vs. CL debate as primarily a financial and policy debate. No matter what the device ownership status, you must protect the enterprise data and connection into the enterprise.

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    • Posted December 9, 2011 at 08:55 | Permalink

      Totally agree with you Alan. My point is simply that if you’re going to go IL, then go truly IL and don’t pay for anything. The only reason I make the argument for going back to full CL is that it seems to me like one potential cure for the pushback that some employees have regarding having their personal devices being “snooped on” (a.k.a. managed/secured)

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  3. J
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 14:18 | Permalink

    Phillipe I think you nailed it. MobileAdmin is being short-sighted assuming a BlackBerry is equivalent to anything else when it comes to productivity gains (which is really what we’re striving for here). Apps are more than just Angry Birds. There are hundreds of solid productivity gaining apps. Not to mention once a company starts building internal apps (which will happen at your company MobileAdmin, if it hasn’t already) building on the BlackBerry platform would be foolish. Making any sort of corporate investment in RIMM at this point would be ludicrous. They are yesterday’s news. A platform of the past, not the future.

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    • Posted December 10, 2011 at 23:20 | Permalink

      When comparing Blackberry to other platforms from a pure productivity view please where does BB not match up?

      - most robust MS Exchange functionality / connectivity
      - connected to our pbx/voip and MS Lync infra
      - sharepoint support
      - extended with our Concur system
      - extended with our Siebel system
      - extended with our Webex system
      - extended with our Citrix infra

      I have found plenty of iOS apps that could be useful, problem is many require behind the firewall systems, firewall modifications, lack security, don’t meet our compliance req etc. So they cannot be used for corporate data.

      Regarding internal applications we already have a number in production and everything going forward is HTML 5 and open standards based. All of which run great on BB OS 7 /QNX, iOS, Android. But yeah the old Blackberry OS should be sunset if thats what you still use, somewhat like shops still on Windows XP and comparing to the latest OS builds.

      I fail to see the #3 vendor in mobile and still very much a player as written off, but maybe you profit most by iOS / Android as you develop for them.

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    • Posted December 13, 2011 at 08:35 | Permalink

      @jschwan I for one hope to see RIM have success with BB10, but only time will tell.

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  4. J
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 08:14 | Permalink
    • Posted December 13, 2011 at 08:33 | Permalink

      Kinda sad that Windows Phone doesn’t even make the chart. No wonder Andy Lees was replaced.

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    • Posted December 13, 2011 at 10:44 | Permalink

      Is that a surprising chart for RIM if you narrow the lens to North America? RIM didn’t release any OS 7 devices until late Q3. Switch to worldwide lens and the picture shows a vastly different picture.

      I’m unsure what Microsoft can do at this point, they never really had a consumer market so once enterprise users switched to RIM there is little reason to consider them. Mango finally has some solid features many require but the stateside carriers are definately pushing iOS / Android at the moment.

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  5. Posted January 20, 2012 at 11:22 | Permalink

    We made a decision a year or so ago that no devices be CL, and by doing that we had to implement a solution that Manages BlackBerry and at very least iOS. We are currently evaluating solutions to bring a select group of Androids as well. As a service division of our company we have to make sure we are providing services that will be used, not that are just easy to manage. Our colleagues want their iPhones and iPads and they want corporate mail, contacts and calendars on them.

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