How to COPE with BYOD

Chris Meager looks at Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE), a BYOD model that may suit organisations who require a higher degree of predictability over their network of devices, with the advantages of allowing users the benefits of integrating personal and work use on a single smart device.

Any straw poll on the views towards BYOD throws up unsurprisingly polarized opinions.  As is the case with most burgeoning technological applications, the promised benefits can appear to border on the utopian.  At the other end of the spectrum the naysayers predict chaotic invasions of privacy with employees being stalked by paranoid employers and feral staff spreading viruses and compromising data security through their poorly managed personal devices.

“Implementing an appropriate security model for non-corporate devices” is the second-highest challenge in a recent BYOD survey by Logicalis Australia, there is no reason to doubt that it is high on the challenge list for most other territories.

However, as retail sales figures for these devices show, the demand is like a juggernaut with no hint of stopping anytime soon. As we have discussed in previous BYOD articles rather than try and prevent it, some organisations, especially in education {LINK to “Real time education for the Real Time Generation”}, are taking the COPE approach.

COPE - the best of both worlds.

We are all familiar with the BYOD model where, most of the time, staff fund device purchases outright and the cost of the device is subsidised by their employer over time, but ultimately the individual owns the device, not the organisation.

The COPE model works the other way around; the organisation owns the device rather than the individual. The company allows varying degrees of personal use, for example access to a selection of approved applications for smart devices.

By managing the choice of devices, access to the networks and applications, the cost of supporting users is more controllable as the environment is more certain.

Where BYOD saves an organisation money by shifting the capital cost of hardware to the user, many organisations now, over time, end up reimbursing the full cost of the user’s device.  COPE can also offer substantial cost benefits, as it allows the application of an organisation’s, often significant, purchasing power to drive down average device purchasing costs.

Data security in organisations is not just a commercially driven imperative, but in many cases it is a legal requirement. With COPE the challenge faced is dealt with simply: because the company owns the device, it can backup, restore and erase data and, because the device is preconfigured before being given to the employee, IT staff can easily apply security and application management policies.

This is not to say that BYOD data security issues cannot be mitigated, but it’s probably fair to say that it is a bigger hurdle to jump and a greater cultural shift for IT departments and policy makers to make. Indeed the burden of rewriting policies with reference to HR and Legal departments, an early requirement in a BYOD roll out, is reduced with COPE, as the difference from existing asset management protocols is less defined.

COPE, therefore, may be a comfortable solution for more conservative organisations that find the prospect of BYOD too much to contemplate at this stage, or where staff in an organization or pupils in a school, who cannot afford a smart device, can benefit from access to the well-documented advantages of integrating personal and work use on a single device, not just during work hours, but 24x7.

Tags BYOD, Strategy, IT trends, COPE, IT Trends, Business Strategy