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The Beginning of The End of BYOD?

You know, there are two things that I keep on telling the world…both on a personal and professional front.  The first is that whether you like it or not, the pendulum will swing back.  The second thing I tell people is that whether you like it or not, you should at the very least listen to the nonsense coming out of my mouth….because over time, people will align themselves to my thinking (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).  I wish I could say that this works all the time, but sadly it doesn’t.  In this context however, I think I am on to something….and the context being that BYOD will fall into the annals of history as of one those blips or speed bumps that we had to overcome.

Now we all know that I have been on my soapbox for what feels like eons at this point saying that BYOD is not a good corporate strategy, and that there are much more viable options, particularly the COPE model.  I also love to call out people who have fundamentally flawed views on enterprise mobility – particularly the ones who say that BYOD fuels employee innovation and productivity (it doesn’t).

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the latest news coming from IBM’s BYOD experiment that showed that it was not about cost savings (duh).  Today, we can read yet another article that shows how BYOD is not cost effective.  Just go read the article at Computerworld “BYOD means soaring IT support costs for mobile devices.”

Here’s my take.  There is enough evidence that is starting to come together to prove my point.  BYOD is not an effective approach to developing a mobility strategy….and it is certainly NOT cost effective.  Heck, lets set the record straight here and say (again) that BYOD is NOT a strategy.  Anyone telling you that you need to have a BYOD strategy is selling you futures and vaporware (or just misinformed).  You can have all the benefits of BYOD….meaning people using devices that they enjoy using….without having to give up control and opening unnecessarily up your wallet.

So when are we going to start seeing companies realize that BYOD has not worked out?  When are we going to start seeing companies stop trying to segment corporate vs. personal data on devices and instead start focusing on what matters which is to protect the corporate data all the while not caring what people do on their personal time?  A former boss told me once….focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t do.

Isn’t that a good lesson for people developing enterprise mobility strategies?


  1. Posted July 16, 2012 at 13:59 | Permalink

    I’m not sure the jury is out on BYOD, at least not yet.

    (1) The ComputerWorld article makes it clear that the costs of management would apply whether the devices are “BYOD” or “COPE” … it’s more the issue that companies that want to support mobility will see increasing costs. And, I can argue that the desire to “control” the devices via MDM is driving costs up.

    (2) I agree that trying to “segment” corporate vs. personal data may be a fools errand. However, building in corporate data protection is key. With mobile application management (MAM) solutions that include app policies, per-app VPNs and Data at Rest (DAR) protection, this is feasible today without MDM or “persona” approaches.

    (3) I agree that cost savings based on an employee “owning” the device may be illusory. However, the real benefit of a BYOD approach is to encourage employees to use their personal device (which they carry 24×7) as part of their work life. This increases productivity, adoption of corporate apps, sharing with colleagues, and ultimately improves employee satisfaction.

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    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 14:18 | Permalink


      I fully agree with the point that there will be management costs regardless of the ownership model, although I am not sure I can agree with your statement that controlling via MDM(/EMM) is driving up costs. I don’t disagree with you when you say that the benefit of BYOD is to encourage greater use of the devices (and thereby steal more personal time from employees)…but that would come from any other model (including COPE) where a user gets to use a device that they actually love, as opposed to whatever “standard” corporate device that was imposed upon them.

      The point is, BYOD is not the root cause of the unintended benefit of robbing people of their personal time (a.k.a. increased productivity).

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      • Posted November 4, 2012 at 12:42 | Permalink

        There’s an another thought catching up very fast – Bring the Right Device. Given that not every smartphone/tablet is well suited for every task from an enterprise context, the enterprises could really realise a full pay off if their mobility strategy, their devices are optimised to deliver right access to right people to get maximum information from the right device. What are your thoughts ?

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  2. Posted July 16, 2012 at 15:13 | Permalink

    Philippe, I’m afraid the pendulum has only just begun its swing. This is no blip or speed bump. Saying “ni” (props to Monte Python) to BYOD is a career limiting move for IT folks. Their task and challenge is “how” to enable it.

    I agree that BYOD may not be “strategy”, but it is a “reality”. Employees are looking to access work from an increasing array of devices. It’s related to CoIT in that employees are signaling that they can be more productive using available technologies that might not (yet) sanctioned by IT. The workforce proletariat tends to get their way these days, and if that isn’t sufficient a forcing function on IT, those pesky executives are pretty good at getting their way.

    If those pressures weren’t enough, they’re dovetailing with planning for Blackberry End of Days. I’m shocked by how many enterprises cite the latter as a driver to me.

    The pendulum has just begun its swing. CoIT and BYOD trends are just beginning to play out. We’re a long way from equilibrium. IT now has the challenge of securely enabling and managing them. To your point, I don’t think CL will go away, but employees will want COPE. It’s hard to imagine IT successfully saying “ni” to that. Better put, there will be very FEW who will successfully block personal use.

    The above realities demand strategies and tools to deliver upon them. “No” is not a strategy, I’m afraid.

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    • Posted July 18, 2012 at 07:21 | Permalink

      I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you Nick. You know better than I do just how quickly mobility evolves….I think things are going to change faster than anyone thinks.

      And for the record….Ni.

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  3. Posted July 17, 2012 at 06:18 | Permalink

    There are a number of reasons why at present and future we will have heterogeneous device environments in the corporate world, and why BYOD is the logical answer to it. I will not point to other people research, but to my very own corporate world. I work for a large language school (providing also IT related English courses). The school uses mobile devices (phones and tablets) for a variety of tasks (the obvious and not so obvious):
    1) Making phone calls (phones)
    2) Managing the diaries (phones)
    3) Teaching (phones and tablets)
    4) IT administration (phones and tablets)
    5) Curfew
    6) Mobile selling and booking of activities
    Each of these tasks require different devices AND different OSes. For instance, teaching can best be provided using iPads (iOS), whilst IT administration is best done with Android devices. For teaching the iTunes and iTunes U deliver a wide spectrum of free material that cannot be found on other devices. Whilst tasks like a simple WiFi environment scanning can neither be done with RIM nor Apple devices as such apps are not allowed in the respective online app stores (for security policy reasons). Of course you could develop each of those not allowed, but required apps yourself and go through the enterprise distribution channel. But I think it is fair to say that this is in reality very cost intensive.
    Another task to cover is curfew. We use right now Windows Mobile CE handhelds to scan students (mostly minors) when going on activities, on their return and when entering or leaving premises. We also use these devices for selling and booking of activities in class rooms. though these devices are still in use, we are replacing them with iPods and a special designed 2D scanning module for iPhone and iPod. This was the technologically most advanced and most cost effective solution as we can develop the required custom apps in house.
    And finally many employees in the administration are having or are provided with RIM devices (we do have a BES server environment).
    To finalize this argument: there is no way that one could solve all our mobile requirements with a single providers environment and as a result of this BYOD makes perfectly sense for us. We are able with minimal effort to integrate Apple, RIM and Android devices. We use BES for Domino and Traveler for Domino to connect all our BYOD and company provided devices to users mail boxes, contacts and diaries. We use mostly Adobe Flex to develop apps that work across all these devices, the latter keeping development cost at a minimum.

    So I concur with Nicholas here…the pendulum just started swinging.

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  4. Posted July 17, 2012 at 12:02 | Permalink

    BYOD is already a blip inside organizations that have adopted the latest generation of tools for general enterprise mobility — the kind of interactions that replicate what employees would otherwise perform on a desktop or laptop (not dedicated mobile processes such as package delivery logistics). The new technologies allow direct connections to enterprise applications and data, integrate existing permission-based security, provide single configurations for multiple devices and, in some cases, replace standalone apps with single clients that run every configuration.

    That reduces the need for MDM and MAM — just remove a user’s permission and access disappears; shrinks the cost of development — the cloud-based versions have virtually no startup costs, and IT-level skills aren’t required; makes app stores unnecessary — the only app needed is the mobile client while all the configurations reside inside the enterprise; enhances security (with some vendors) — transmission encryption and the ability to make data non-persistent reduces vulnerability if devices are lost.

    BYOD, in this environment at least, becomes adaptive rather than adoptive. By avoiding the complexities of traditional mobile app dev (and the potential for introducing security holes), multi-platform support, and additional management/maintenance costs, direct enterprise-to-mobile configurations make BYOD equivalent to running enterprise applications on different brands of computers.

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    • Posted July 18, 2012 at 07:23 | Permalink

      Too bad that people still like the rich experiences that come from native apps Peter…and candidly, I think we’ll stop needing MDM and MAM only when we stop using devices and applications.

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  5. Posted July 19, 2012 at 16:21 | Permalink

    BYOD is indeed not a strategy, nor it can replace the fact most organizations need a real mobile devices strategy.
    However, it is happening and is forcing IT to make different moves.
    Companies can build a perfect device strategy, but people will keep bringing new devices every day. The nature of all of us (we all read emails 24/7, we all prefer accessing simple tasks from a tablet rather than doing it using a laptop) will dictate that personal devices will be used for corporate productivity use.

    The thing we all need to remember is that BYOD is not just for smartphones and tablets. We already see people bringing their personal laptop with them, and once Windows 8 and Surface kind of tablets are released – we will see more of that. The challenge here is not only emails and security, it’s also making enterprise software work on personal devices and multiple models and platforms. I think that this is exactly where HTML5 will shine, and the mobile web will provide the right answer to that growing need.

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  6. Posted July 23, 2012 at 07:47 | Permalink

    I agree that BYOD is happening in some organisations. I believe that these adopters are split between two main types 1) those who have considered the case for BYOD and moved forward knowing the benefits outweigh the risks (these hopefully will have been mitigated or reduced as part of the planning) 2) organisations that simply make it easy for employees to do their own thing with whatever device they want (consumerisation of IT).

    I have yet to be convinced that many organisations will sit in type 1. We work with quite a few schools and I see this as one of the exceptions. Here BYOD can be used as the only way to equip students with a mobile device as the corporate device for many students never existed. Outside of education perhaps VDI can support a relatively risk-free adoption of BYOD?

    Most businesses that fall into type 2 should review the case for BYOD and if it is lacking they should then review the configuration of their environment and how it is managed. It shouldn’t be too challenging to restrict access to corporate resources for corporate devices only.

    Allowing BYOD when there is no benefit to the business makes no sense. In these situations COPE is the right answer as personal content on corporate devices does not present the risks and complexities that personal devices might bring when allowed onto the corporate network.

    COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled….or as I prefer Corporate Only Policy Enforcement) provides IT leaders with unquestionable authority & control over all devices. My preferred definition doesn’t change the fundamental meaning of COPE although it gives greater emphasis to the level of control retained by the corporate when compared to personally owned devices.

    So in summary, I agree with Philippe that BYOD will quickly fade away as an attractive initiative for all but a small minority.

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