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Confused About BYOD? It’s Not Your Fault

Please note my friends, that I will do my best to not turn today’s missive into a rant, but do forgive me if sometimes it may appear as one.  I say this because I have spent the last couple of days immersed in several discussions around the matter, including with subject matter experts (e.g., industry veterans and members of the press) whom I feel need a refresher course on what BYOD means.

For starters, I’m guessing they had not seen my earlier commentary where I described the differences between BYOD and CoIT (The Consumerization of IT).  That’s OK.  Just like Robin Williams said to Matt Damon in the movie “Good Will Hunting”

It’s not your fault.

Then I find via the Twitter-sphere an article written in the United Arab Emirates called “BYOD makes work more like home.”  It’s not a bad article per se, but the title is inaccurate and hence only obfuscates the matter more.  The title should have said CoIT makes work more like home.  Too bad the article was shared by an enterprise mobility vendor.

Then I go to an event in Florida this week and I saw several vendors talk on the show floor about their BYOD strategy.  Here’s the problem though:

  • One vendor was using the term BYOD to imply that it’s Unified Communications system worked on iOS and Android
  • Another vendor was using the term BYOD to suggest that its WLAN infrastructure could support the extra devices that could potentially enter the workplace

What do either of these things have to do with BYOD?  Oh that’s right.  Nothing.

It’s not your fault.

BYOD is becoming (has become?) the next MDM.  It’s turning into this catch all phrase that does not accurately describe the subject and issues at hand….just like the world uses the term Mobile Device Management when they really mean to say Enterprise Mobility Management.  The problem is that the term MDM has gotten to be such a catch all phrase that it’s almost meaningless.  I fear the same has happened with BYOD.

You might be asking yourself, Philippe, why do you care so much about what it’s called?  Well, other than the fact that I am a language geek, I firmly believe that if we don’t have strict definitions for terms, it translates into confused policies and implementations that are ultimately less than optimal for IT departments and organizations at large.  Case in point, one organization I spoke with in Florida will let its employees purchase whatever device they want and the employer will reimburse all but $10 for the device (as well as pay for most of the service plan).  This is how they have developed their BYOD strategy.

It’s not your fault.


  1. Posted March 30, 2012 at 08:48 | Permalink

    Always good to start the day off with a good laugh. The point that you raise is a very important one. The overuse and misuse of the term MDM is now leading to a lot of “buyers remorse” as folks realize all of the questions that they should have asked before they bought the product. It’s ok though… It’s not your fault.

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    • Posted March 30, 2012 at 17:37 | Permalink

      And the problem is only getting worse with the gazillion articles written every week on BYOD that are providing incorrect (IMO) information on the matter. Heck, if I had a dollar for every article written on BYOD, I wouldn’t have needed to play the $640 million lottery today!

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  2. Posted April 2, 2012 at 13:04 | Permalink

    I was at the event in Florida and enjoyed your panel discussion. BYOD seems to be a catch all for any device other than a laptop that a business person wants to work on. I welcomed the idea of COPE as COPE does a good job in pivoting the discussion to focus on the outcome of allowing any device into the company (cost, productivity loss, ownership issues…).

    Just like you should not mix personal and business accounts why would you want to mix personal and business systems without defined boundaries and ownership?

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  3. Posted April 3, 2012 at 22:00 | Permalink

    Philippe, you know I get pedantic and crazy around words/acronyms and their meaning.

    BYOD is a trend (more people “bringing”) and a challenge (how to enable/secure/manage devices that have done been “brought”!). COPE is the flip side to same coin – a trend and a slightly different array of challenges.

    BYOD is not… a product, a solution or a product/technology category. MDM is one and one of many (MIM, MAM, app-wrapper, mobile DLP, dual persona etc etc). These and UC, WLAN etc can be applied to enable or improve BYOD.

    There’s too much PREMATURE debate about one versus the other. For example, MAM-vs-MDM drives me crazy. First, there is no silver bullet, as we’re still in the early days of building strategic mobility. Second, it’s clear MDM vendors are getting into MAM “functionality” (which I quote because acronyms may be better descriptions of bucket of functionality that a stand-alone product category). MAM guys are doing little bits of MDM. Those two acronyms are converging, and this is where I will diverge from my original comment… I don’t care what its called.

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    • Posted April 4, 2012 at 09:47 | Permalink

      Agreed Nick that MDM is a product category and that BYOD is not (I’m not confused), but my point is only that both terms are over- and mis- used.

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  4. Posted April 5, 2012 at 16:29 | Permalink

    Not necessarily a comment for Philippe, but readers who may still be unclear on BYOD’s meaning, I thought I’d share an on-demand webinar recording, Best Practices for Implementing a BYOD Program: http://bit.ly/whatIsBYOD

    If you’re short on time (it’s about an hour long), check out the recap! http://bit.ly/BYODrecap

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  5. Posted April 5, 2012 at 19:54 | Permalink

    Sorry, Philippe. The critique wasn’t directed at you! You know I know that you know the distinctions!

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