“You can have any color you want…as long as it’s black.” That’s a quote that is attributed to Henry Ford. It makes me think about the “old days” of enterprise mobility…you know, the ones before we had the consumerization of IT and the tsunami better known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). You could have any smartphone you wanted, as long as it was a BlackBerry. That’s because the IT department could control the devices with an iron fist. Well, we have certainly had a “Mobile Spring” over the last couple of years where employees (most notably senior level executives) pushed back and forced the IT department to allow employees to use their mobile devices of choice, most notably iOS and Android devices.
The rest, as we say, is history.
The consumerization of IT and the BYOD tsunami has made the IT departments incredibly uncomfortable. They have “lost control” and are now “at the mercy” of the employees. This, of course, has fueled many a debate regarding the most appropriate mobility strategy that organizations should develop and what sorts of policies they should implement regarding “acceptable use” of those devices. Unfortunately, we have still seen high profile legal instances that have gone all the way to the Supreme Court of The United States.
What if there were another scenario? What if there were a way for IT departments to C.O.P.E. with user needs, all the while stay in some sort of a comfort zone by having control of the devices? Sure, many organizations have deployed enterprise mobility management solutions to reign in the BYOD tsunami, but most have done so because they had to (vs. seeing an opportunity to empower their workforce).
So what if we flipped the BYOD conversation to a model that is the antithesis of Henry Ford’s vision? What if we moved to a Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled environment (see, aren’t I cute there, adding yet ANOTHER acronym in this alphabet soup space?).
The vision of what COPE would be is as follows.
The IT department would provide you ANY mobile device you want…that’s because they have embraced the Consumerization of IT (more on the distinction between consumerization and BYOD here). However, as opposed to trying to find a way to secure the corporate data that will reside on the employees’ personal devices, why not instead provide the employees a means to put some personal content on their work devices? The device (and the corporate data that resides on it) is fully managed and controlled, but also allows for employees to install the apps they like for their personal use. We already see this in many organizations where employees are installing their favorite media players and their music or personal photos on their laptops…so why not extend that to the other mobile devices? Aren’t they already COPE-ing with those laptops?
There are other benefits that come from the COPE model that you won’t find from BYOD. The original premise of BYOD was (in one respect) to help reduce corporate expenses. Made sense when you’re looking to cut costs. However, the only way in my opinion where BYOD can truly be cost effective, is if the employee pays for their devices and the totality of their service plans. Too often I see companies fully reimburse the price of the device, or the service plans or make employees fill out a reimbursement form to get their monthly stipend. There are zero economies of scale in these scenarios that truly provide long term cost savings to the organization. On the flip side, through savvy Wireless Expense Management, organizations leveraging the COPE model could negotiate great contracts with the wireless carriers to get steep discounts on devices, upgrades, as well as voice, data and messaging plans.
How is this not a win/win?
Now mind you, we’ll still need to see organizations deploy enterprise mobility management solutions, but wouldn’t the COPE model bring more IT departments into a comfort zone that would actually still allow employees to use the mobile devices that work best for them and not have the good people in the IT department suffer from premature baldness?
So, in closing, before you say that this is a six of one, half-dozen of the other scenario, I will respectfully challenge that. Yes, in one respect it is….but it’s also about perspective. This is a “help me help you” moment. This is about how the organization can actually embrace the consumerization of IT and principles of IT Service Management where the IT department becomes a true business enabler.
Would love to hear (see?) your thoughts on this.