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Enterprise Mobility Acronyms: The Devil Is In The Details

Ah, the day after Christmas.  In some parts of the world, it’s called Boxing Day.  In other parts, it could be considered a day of recovering from too much food…and perhaps even too much time with your family and/or in-laws.  Side note: doesn’t that sound a lot like Thanksgiving Friday?  Three sentences in and I begin to digress.  In any case, I spent Boxing Day reflecting a bit on 2012 and all the changes that we have seen in the world of enterprise mobility.  One of the things you will often hear me say is “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  It’s along the lines of the other saying: “There are only two things guaranteed in this world.  Death and taxes.”

If I had to paraphrase this in the world of enterprise mobility, I would have to include in there somewhere the notion that discussing BYOD never goes away.  It seems as if BYOD is there at every turn.  Got Apps?  BYOD.  Security?  You need it for BYOD.  World peace?  That comes only with BYOD.  I think you get my drift.

Then I stumble upon yet another predictions article.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like predictions articles, and there can certainly be no better time for them as we get ready to put an end to 2012 and spend the first few weeks of the new year scratching out 2012 on the checks we write and replacing it instead with 2013.  In this ZDNet article, Kevin Gavin, chief marketing officer at ShoreTel shared a prediction that BYOD will become less of a focus for enterprises.  Specifically, he states:

With employees wanting certain devices, but IT departments holding on to control for dear life, 2013 will bring a year of compromise. The practice of giving employees the ability to “choose their own device” instead of “bring their own device” will increase; which will satisfy security issues concerning the IT department and the desire of choice for employees.

I couldn’t agree more….with one major caveat.

I have been on my soap box for quite some time suggesting that BYOD is nothing more than people’s desire to embrace the consumerization of IT and then the IT department’s nightmare of having to manage all this.  As you might also know, I have been a major champion of an alternative model I call COPE – which stands for Corporate Owned Personally Enabled.

At face value then, one might think that COPE and CYOD are the same thing.  They can be….but not necessarily.  Here’s why.

COPE and CYOD can absolutely be the same thing…assuming that the IT department doesn’t approach it in the same way that it approached handing out BlackBerry devices in the past decade.  The Corporate Liable of yesteryear was all about controlling everything.  The employee was given the privilege of having a device that allowed them to receive and send emails from a wonderfully portable and useful device.  Too bad the user experience got old, especially when compared to those two up and comers….you know, iOS and Android.

I will argue that CYOD can be a complete failure for the workplace (and the IT department) if it is treated like the Corporate Liable programs of old.  CYOD – done wrong – will only look like the IT department is loosening its (desired) grip.  It will be like going from “you can have any color car you want as long as it’s black” to “you can choose between onyx, raven or obsidian.”  (Psst: they’re all black)

COPE is about letting go (just a wee bit).  COPE is about not just letting, but ENCOURAGING people to download Facebook or Angry Birds and creating that mobile stickiness.  It’s like when an employer provides “free” lunch.  Do you know why they do that?  It’s not for improved employee morale….it’s to make sure you don’t go run errands on your “lunch break” so they can get that much more time out of your workday.  By enabling a true COPE model, people will fear Big Brother less – there will be less animosity between employee and employer (at least in this regard) and at the end of the day….the employer gets more “productivity” out of the employee.

So as you and your organization begin to realize more and more that implementing a BYOD strategy may not be worth it (at least in certain key scenarios), you’ll want to explore other options (and acronyms).  I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about CYOD, and I already know of some major enterprises that will be implementing COPE this coming year (Yay!!) Just make sure that when you look for alternatives to BYOD that you understand what they truly signify and what their impact might be on your organization.


  1. Posted December 29, 2012 at 19:44 | Permalink

    The problem with COPE is the Personal side of things are often against exsisting corporate usage policy or in many companies regulatory controls that are need to be adhered to.

    Having run a BYOD program for the past year I’ll note two things:

    1. Unless you stipend BYOD – don’t bother. You’ll have limited to no adoption by employees as they do not want to pay for their own device and use it for “work”. The rub is if you do provide a stipend there goes any cost savings and in many cases actually shows cost increase. So this is still a really sticky issue on both sides. Thus something like COPE has appeal as you remove the employee liable variable.

    2. Employees adopted other devices for one reason. Lack of management. Sure theres some useful Apps and the larger screen is nice but don’t kid yourself. They dropped their Blackberry due to many companies had no solution in place to properly secure and manage iPhones. The traditional corporate Blackberry has Apps load disabled, browser filtered (or disabled), TXT captured and 3rd party email disabled. It was strictly a device for corporate email / PIM and phones calls. Now that there are solutions that can manage these devices, employees are stopping wanting to use them for work as they often have a password enforced, auto lock and courtsey of Apple a wealth of API that can render an iPhone as appealing as the Blackberry they so quickly moved away from. Is a COPE iPhone that is restricted like a Blackberry really progress?

    Now I think what you really want is COPR (Personal Responsible) which is a hard nut for corporate legal, compliance and security areas to accept as time after time it’s shown employees are often not. They lose devices, lose data, do innappropiate things etc.

    We’re fighting the same thing for the last 20 years regarding technology in the work place. The answer then as it is now is if you want to keep your life private (Sexting your mistress, adult humor with your buddies etc) – use two devices. One thats yours and personal and one work provides you. If not you need to compromise how this device will be used.

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    • Posted January 3, 2013 at 08:34 | Permalink

      MobileAdmin – I’ll challenge your thesis regarding why people adopted other devices. While the BlackBerry was/is an excellent email device, it became sorely lacking on (almost) every other front…especially when apps became so popular. Yes, it was consumer apps (and games) at first, but now it’s also enterprise apps…all for “other devices.”

      With regards to your 1st comment, I will argue that implementing a successful COPE model is predicated upon updating your mobility policies to embrace the “new age” of mobile. It’s not very practical IMHO to expect people to have hard delineations between what is personal and professional….particularly seeing how we so often work outside of the office and outside of “traditional” work hours.

      To your point about COPR – I violently agree. I’ve been saying for years that we should stop talking about individual vs. corporate liability and focus instead on mutual responsibility.

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