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Is BYOD Really a Requirement For a Successful Mobility Strategy?

I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed over the last couple of weeks.  Let me start off by saying that the imagery associated with today’s missive is nothing more than a homage to my World Champion Boston Red Sox.  I, among many other people in Red Sox Nation are quite tired, having stayed up late many nights watching the games.  In any case…

I had the opportunity to go to a client meeting this week.  While I certainly can’t mention what city I was in, nor what industry this client works in (and certainly not their name!), I will share with you that they are a massive global organization in extremely regulated sectors.  Security for them is always top of mind.  This is the main rationale they give as to why they don’t allow employees to bring their own devices into the workplace.  Their BYOD strategy is summarized in one word: “No.” While no one explicitly said this, I can paraphrase and say that hell will freeze over before they develop a BYOD program.

So this got me thinking.  Is this necessarily a bad thing?  Does this mean that they can’t successfully deploy mobile technologies into their workplace?

There have been countless studies that show how many companies are developing BYOD strategies, even in highly regulated industries such as Banking or other Financial Services sectors.  OK, that’s great.  But what about the companies that are NOT developing those BYOD programs?  Will they be mobile laggards?

I don’t think so.

There have been a number of conversations, both on this site and others, explaining the difference between having a BYOD program/strategy versus embracing the principles of the Consumerization of IT (CoIT).  Unfortunately, many sites also consider BYOD and CoIT to be one and the same – industry cognoscenti know better.

So let me go back to a classic example I like to give.  If a company decides to provide all its employees iPhones, is that BYOD?  Of course not (although some would think so).  But does that approach embrace the principles of CoIT?  Absolutely.  And oh, by the way, what does it REALLY matter who owns the device (other than TEM, and legal issues).  I don’t mean to discount those issues, but that is not part of the security question around mobility.  Regardless of who owns the device, you need to make sure the content on those devices is secured.  The main issue about the example I provided was that the workplace has decided to standardize on ONE platform.  But again, is that a BAD thing if the platform embraces the notion of CoIT with a great user experience and a fantastic application ecosystem?  I would say no.

The only question that remains then is, do you allow your employees for whom you have provided a mobile device to use it for personal use?  If the answer is “No,” then I will argue that that is where the “No to BYOD” rationale is faulty.  If you are providing your employees a mobile device, then you should trust them with it.  If you don’t trust your employees, then why did you hire them in the first place?

So back to the original question.  Is BYOD a requirement for a successful mobility strategy?  I would argue that it is not.  However, embracing CoIT absolutely is a key requirement in developing not just a successful, but WINNING mobility strategy.

Can’t wait to see the Red Sox parade tomorrow.


  1. Posted November 4, 2013 at 04:35 | Permalink

    I’m surprised you aren’t bringing up COPE as an alternative to BYOD that successfully allows you to embrace CoIT…

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    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 09:39 | Permalink

      I didn’t want to be too self serving, but yes COPE is a great alternative. I’ll still argue that in certain instances, a homogeneous environment can work…but it has to be based on one of the popular platforms (and leverage the principles of COPE).

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  2. Posted November 8, 2013 at 21:47 | Permalink

    I see BYOD philosophically .The way devices and form factors get forced on world , Enterprises get tired of chasing and certifying them for enterprises. There will never be a point like ” Ok , by this my enterprise mobility adoption reached the peak”. Bespoke strategies will fail to scale some day (may be tomorrow)

    The only way Enterprises can face consumerization pressure is by template-ising mobility adoption, create groups/patterns that gets accepted in an Enterprise with “umbrella strategies”. BYOD gives a great model trust devices with enterprise apps at various trust levels. It kind of give a continuous and strategic momentum of enterprise mobility adoption than a tactical affair. Since BYOD is a “discipline” and not a “thing” , the painting of it is based on the Enterprise IT imagination. Great support is from Industry with a widest range of innovations.. life was never better than this for enterprises…

    COPE (I wish to see it as a model, again philosophical :) ) we should not see conflicting with BYOD, COPE is a wonderfully viable model for those power users , who are incentivised to use enterprise mobility . It is an enterprise goodwill gesture – “We are acknowledging your support for enterprise on move, we will make 100% enterprise on your mobility avtar sponsored by us”

    Go BYOD, big leaps .. if not atleast baby steps….

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    • Posted November 9, 2013 at 11:55 | Permalink

      Kumar – Love the fact that you see BYOD or COPE as philosophies. Unfortunately, others will see this as religion…and we all know that when you are a religious extremist, you don’t see the full view of what is going on, nor the opportunities before you if you weren’t so set in your ways.

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      • Posted November 9, 2013 at 23:14 | Permalink

        I agree, I don’t even see these 2 or 3 philosophies can solve 10% of the current technology hunger for mobility, models get built over most of these soon. Soon these will be building blocks, the same way a year before I advocated for HTML5.

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