What’s Your Approach: BYOD, COPE, or COLD?
It appears that everyone is obsessed with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), but there are other models of enterprise mobility that can be equally valuable. Consider COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled) or COLD (Corporate Owned, Locked Down) as alternatives that have their own virtues, depending on the situation. No business has a one-size-fits-all user base, so review all models in planning an enterprise mobility strategy.
Everyone talks about BYOD these days to the point that it might appear that it is the only future. In reality, BYOD is one option that may or may not become as mainstream as projected.
BYOD was born from the iPhone and the desire to use the latest, coolest, most powerful devices. It has spread with the iPad, Android smartphones, and Android tablets, and even Windows Phones. Bottom line: don’t give me your BlackBerry, I want a real smartphone! BYOD allows users to use their preferred device, and the business doesn’t have to buy the device or data\phone plan that is associated.
BYOD also brings with it the idea of BYOA (Bring Your Own App) and user freedom. Users don’t need expensive IT approved apps, they can download free or 99-cent apps that are amazing and help me do my job. Finally, they don’t need IT to use their smartphone, it works without IT’s help.
The future of BYOD is at risk. In my previous article, Is BYOD Going to Die by Lawsuit?, I outlined some legal cases that pose a threat to the future of BYOD. The legal case will need to draw to a close in order to understand the full implications, but in summary, there may be limitations.
Enterprise mobility solutions for BYOD ultimately must protect business data and preserve end-user freedom and trust. Not enough security and the business is at risk, but too heavy handed control and you lose the confidence of your most critical assets: knowledge workers.
While the media is enamored with BYOD, COPE should be equally considered. In reality, many businesses (particularly in the United States) have been running COPE on their desktops and laptops. COPE means the business owns the device, has certain management and security controls, but allows the user to change the system.
User changes in this desktop model typically involve adding software or customizing the user experience. This could include installing one’s favorite open source application to do their job. It could include installing iTunes to manage music on the business computer so one doesn’t have to lug two laptops everywhere. It could be changing desktop settings (such as moving the taskbar to the right of the screen) to optimize the way one works. It generally doesn’t mean the user gets to disable antimalware or other corporate controls, although this often happens in this model.
COPE for mobility means the user gets the device from the business. They get the choice of the device (or choices) so they can use the device that makes them happiest and, hopefully, most productive. They have access to app stores so they can download their favorite game or productivity apps. They can take pictures and videos and use the device for both work and personal life. From a corporate perspective, they have to enroll the device to enterprise mobility solutions so the business can protect the apps, content, and other information on the device.
COPE is a very compelling model that skirts the pains of BYOD, but still keeps users happy. Allowing users to use their device in ways that are personally empowering makes it easier for them to do their job and live their life. Make it clear that freedom isn’t free and they, and the organization, are still responsible to protect business and customer data. Enterprise mobility solutions are there to provide those protections.
Enterprise mobility solutions for COPE devices can be more aggressive in terms of control, and security, as the business owns the device. That said, businesses must consider end-user empowerment to ensure they maintain their trust and confidence.
If you’ve never heard of COLD, it’s because I made the acronym up to describe devices that are corporate owned and locked down to prevent the end user from modifying the device settings and apps.
COLD feels like a throwback to the days when IT ruled supreme and users did what they were told. In reality, this still makes sense in certain cases. For task workers (such as sales associates in a store or pickers in a warehouse), locking down a device is the best thing that can be done for the business and the user. In these situations, devices are often shared between multiple users and can be mission critical to the user’s ability to do their job.
Take, for example, a warehouse picker who is using a shared, rugged, barcode scanner to pick product for order fulfillment. They come in for their shift, clock in, and grab whatever handheld barcode scanner is available (running Windows CE\Mobile – shifting to Android and Windows Embedded Handheld). They need their device to be ready to do its job and don’t have the skills to fix problems themselves. They have no need to install new apps or change settings: their device is their job.
Take another example of the sales associate who comes into a retail store, uses a tablet to look up inventory for customers and facilitate sales with a credit card sled. They now have an iPad or Android tablet that is shared with other associates. While these devices are powerful, it is critical that they are consistent in their configuration and security so these employees can grab a tablet and go about their job.
The COLD model usually involves a few elements:
- Shared devices
- Standard configurations
- Deploying local apps
- Accessing business critical host apps
- Restricting certain device\OS features
- Security to protect against device loss
Enterprise mobility solutions should be controlling in this model. Those devices are there for a purpose and that purpose isn’t personal entertainment.
Mobility is an extremely personal form of computing. For dedicated smartphones and tablets, users are protective of the information on these devices and feel threatened by IT involvement. In the case of BYOD and COPE, be sensitive to these feelings as they strike close to a person’s emotional center.
For COLD scenarios, make sure the users see those devices, whether handheld scanner or tablet, as business tools. Especially with tablets which look and feel like the same device they have at home, users must realize that those devices have specific purposes and need to be treated in a more standard fashion.