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BYOD and COPE: Mobile Devices Descend Upon the Enterprise: What it Means

November 28, 2012 1 Comment

By David A. Kelly, Upside Research

There is no doubt that the enterprise computing landscape has been forever altered with the arrival of mobile devices. The ubiquity of mobile devices is startling, with Gartner Group reporting that 75% of companies allow employees to use personal devices at work, and that number is predicted to rise to 90% by 2014, less than two years away. The decision to allow BYOD (bring-your-own-device) is one that has been argued for some time, and apparently, the devices have won. While it can have a significant impact on IT resources (read: stress levels), overall BYOD is viewed as a positive trend for enterprises, mostly because of the potential for increasing productive exponentially.

Here are some of the ways the enterprise benefits from allowing BYOD:

  • * Enabling Business Flexibility. Mobile devices provide flexibility and speed to business processes that cannot occur in a wired environment. Consider the ability of GPS systems providing location-based data that can enable a manager to make real-time decisions. Or the real-time insight a mobile device can provide a salesperson in the field regarding current inventory levels and product availability.
  • * Improving Customer Service. Customer service levels improve considerably with mobile devices. From the obvious opportunity in retail settings for sales associates to be armed with the right information at the right time to assist shoppers in making purchases, to settings such as health care environments where mobile devices can be used to queue patients, capture important information in a data secured environment, and facilitate better treatment, mobile devices are finding new business applications every day.
  • * Delivering Enterprise App Access Anywhere. Which brings us to enterprise application access – with mobile devices, IT departments have the ability to develop apps specifically for access to critical back-office systems, and delivering them via a preferred interface. This trend is changing the way IT departments staff their development efforts, to reflect the trend toward creating mobile apps that are faster to develop and less costly to deploy (see Mobile Application Development – Taking Over an Enterprise Near You).
  • * Lowered Infrastructure Costs. By allowing employee-owned devices, enterprises are saving considerable amounts on IT budgets in issuing and managing the devices and their usage plans. Of course, this cost savings is partially offset if the company chooses to offer MDM (mobile device management) for BYOD devices, or it provides a stipend for employees who use such devices for work.

It would appear that BYOD of mobile devices is ideal for all enterprises. The key to success is proper management of BYOD, and here are a few considerations to ensure the best experiences. First and foremost, IT departments must develop a clear and extensive policy for mobile device usage. The first consideration is what devices to support – many enterprises allow Android and iOS devices, including iPad. Next, requiring passcodes and/or two-level authentication are two examples of ways enterprises can make BYOD more secure. Limiting features like GPS, as well as creating a list of white-listed and black-listed common apps are other important policy features.

The latest development in the BYOD movement is called COPE – corporate owned, personally enabled. This newer policy allows employees to choose what company-approved device they prefer to use, and it permits them to use it both personally and professionally. By keeping the device corporate-owned, enterprises can be more certain their data and networks are secure (a common risk of BYOD without strong policies in place). It also allows IT the ability to disconnect a device should a data breach or employee termination occur, much like company issued PCs. The conversations around BYOD and COPE are happening now – is your company offering either of these to employees?

One Comments to “BYOD and COPE: Mobile Devices Descend Upon the Enterprise: What it Means”
  1. kurtlikely says:

    Great article David, but I think the only thing I would add is education. An example is that our hospital put a BYOD policy in place to use Tigertext for HIPAA complient text messaging, but the doctors still used their unsecure regular text messaging. Even though we had a good BYOD policy, it wasn’t enough, we had to bring each doctor in to admin for 15 minutes of training and explaining the HIPAA issues and how to use the app correctly. Now we have about 95% of the doctors in compliance. If you want employees to comply with your IT/BYOD security program, you really need to educate employees about the BYOD policy and the technologies you use weather it is an app like Tigertext or a larger MDM system.

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