All of our thoughts on BYOD today

BYOD. It's a topic that always gets a lot of attention, and there are two reasons for that: First, BYOD is a misnomer for enterprise mobility in general.


It’s a topic that always gets a lot of attention, and there are two reasons for that: First, BYOD is a misnomer for enterprise mobility in general. Second—and more important—device ownership has significant financial, legal, and IT policy implications.

In this post I’m going to outline all of our current thoughts on BYOD (as I seem to have done one, two, and three years ago).

BYOD =/= iOS and Android.

When iOS and Android first came out many people thought of them as personal devices and BlackBerrys as enterprise devices. At the time, dealing with iOS and Android was especially challenging because they were brand new operating systems with few enterprise features.

But today almost all of the mobile devices (and phone bills) paid for by companies are iOS and Android, so the whole “iOS and Android = BYOD” idea just isn’t accurate anymore. (And on top of that iOS and Android have plenty of enterprise features now.)

IT requirements for BYOD and corporate devices are (mostly) the same

Using a device to do both work and personal tasks doesn’t just happen with BYOD—it happens with many corporate devices, too. (There’s a term for this: COPE, which stands for corporate-owned, personally enabled. Essentially it means that companies pay for devices, but users get to treat them like their own.) Mobile app strategies don’t really have anything to do with device ownership, either.

All this means that from an IT perspective, most mobility efforts will go towards supporting mobility in general, not a specific ownership model.

Device ownership is mostly an HR issue

For users, having their employer pay for their device or phone bill is a significant benefit (even if it’s not officially part of their compensation plan), so rolling out a compulsory BYOD program is essentially a pay cut. Obviously this is a decision that IT shouldn’t be making on its own—this is a human resources issue.

How to apply EMM to BYOD: It’s not as simple as MDM for corporate and MAM for BYOD

For a while a common idea was to use MDM to manage corporate devices and use MAM for BYOD, but today this is out of date and an over-generalization. As mentioned previously, work and personal usage happens on corporate devices, too, so MAM is applicable for that and other reasons. Also, MDM has evolved to the point where it has built-in MAM features.

Let’s take a second to look at MAM, because it’s complicated these days: There are two broad categories of MAM: MAM that uses specialized apps, and MAM that’s built into mobile operating systems. Both of these have their pros and cons, and it’s hard to make any blanket statements concerning MAM, MDM, and BYOD—instead you have to consider the individual apps and use cases.

Anyway, there’s still a debate about how to manage BYOD, and there are a lot of strong opinions on both sides. Companies will naturally want to use MDM manage the devices they own to track assets. (Though maybe not for COPE devices? This is probably the de facto default today for many organizations that don’t have EMM.)

On the other hand, there are some BYOD scenarios where you might not want to manage the devices (because of privacy concerns or regulations, or for contractors or external partners) or where you might not technically be able to (for example with contractors that work for multiple companies).

I still have this idea that companies could let users choose whether to enroll their personal devices in MDM or just do apps-only management. If they want to have the native email client experience they can go ahead and enroll; or if they’re concerned about privacy and IT controls then they can just choose to use a third-party enterprise email client. (Though I have to say I haven’t actually heard of any companies trying this.)

There will always be a mix of ownership models

There’s no shortage of BYOD predictions. Many if not most analysts think that BYOD will increase, since companies want to get out of the business of buying and deploying devices. On the other hand, some people believe that the policy headaches and liabilities from BYOD are too big, and that companies will lean towards corporate devices or COPE.

Just remember that there are many ways to define BYOD and there will always be use cases for both. Think of corporate devices that are shared among workers or act as kiosks. On the other side, think of BYOD devices from contractors and partners that need to access your data and applications. And even users that do have corporate devices will still want to bring in personal tablets.

New BYOD-related technologies

One thing that can make BYOD easier is technology that enables both a work and personal phone number to be used on the same device. It just makes sense—how many times have you wondered whether to call somebody's office line or their cell phone? Or what if you don’t want a professional contact to know your personal cell phone number? There are many vendors addressing this need (VoIP providers, unified communications providers, carriers, etc.) and different ways to do it (using VoIP, going over the public switched telephone network, or even fancy SIM card technology).

There’s been a lot of talk about split data billing in the last year, too. Using MAM, companies can measure how much data corporate apps use and then reimburse employees or just pay for it outright. There are several vendors and carriers getting into this space, and while I haven’t met many companies that are racing to adopt it, some are concerned in light of the California Court of Appeal ruling that employers must provide reasonable compensation to employees who are required to use their personal devices for work.

We still have to work out support policies

There are many questions we have to ask about BYOD: Is the help desk responsible for troubleshooting personal devices that are used for work? What happens when a device breaks—does IT provide a backup? Other policies need to be made for different types of devices. Users with older Android devices might get as much access to corporate data.

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I am wondering if any large enterprises are using Chrome Books for a COPE deployment method? I am not seeing a lot of large scale workforces using Chrome Books with XA\XD as the core delivery of enterprise apps. I would be interested to hear if anyone is using these on scale and what the level of customer satisfaction is.