It’s almost 2015, and using MDM to manage BYOD is still up for debate.

Should we use mobile device management to manage employees' personal devices, or should we leave them unmanaged and use mobile app management instead?

As we’re getting close to 2015, there’s a debate that stands out: Should we use mobile device management to manage employees’ personal devices, or should we leave them unmanaged and use mobile app management instead?

This debate stands out for a few reasons: It’s been going on for quite a while now; advances in EMM technology are affecting both sides of the debate; there are a lot of strong feelings involved. (Not to mention that BYOD is still a strong buzzword, as well as a euphemism for other mobility-related issues.)

Will there be any more clarity on the issue in 2015? There are a lot of different technologies and ideas to take into account:

How do you define BYOD? What do you bother trying to control? This depends on how you define BYOD. You could be doing corporate-owned, personally-enable (COPE) devices; there could be a waiver or acceptable use policy to make sure that users are okay with MDM; or BYOD could be voluntary opt-in only. On the other hand, you still have to be prepared for all the random extra tablets and phones that come in your door no matter what.

It’s all about email! Let’s face it: this debate really just comes down to email. This is the one main place where we have a choice between using the built-in email app (and using MDM to manage it) or using a third-party app (with MAM). Advances in EMM technology have helped both sides: The iOS 8 email client has more business features (like support for out of office messages); on the other hand ever since iOS 7, third-party email clients can actually download attachments in the background, remove one of their past drawbacks. It’s a game of cat and mouse for sure, but at least both options are improving.

For much of EMM, this question is immaterial. For much of the rest of EMM, the challenges are the same no matter what—you have to deal with work and personal data no matter who owns the device, and the challenge to mobilize legacy applications remains, too.

Many people default to managing corporate devices not managing BYOD. There’s nothing wrong with this as a basic guideline, but clearly it’s not a hard and fast rule

The voices are loud on both sides. We see it all the time: Some people (very vocally) want to get out of the business of managing endpoint devices or even providing them at all. At the same time others say that the full control of the device using MDM is the only way to ensure security.

Future technology changes will have an effect. At this point, we still don’t know exactly how EMM vendors will implement the new management APIs in Android Lollipop. They could come up with something that provides the right balance of control and privacy, so there’s no debate. iOS could evolve, too.

So where do you stand? Do you think one technique or another is going to win out? (And what would you prefer on the phone you use every day? Our company doesn’t use EMM software, and I have to say that I’m completely undecided on which way I’d go if it came up for me.)

Or do you agree that there will always be use cases for both? And if that’s the case, then there’s not really a debate. It’s just a decision to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

It seams the discussion is narrowing down to the use of phones. Is this correct ? Is BYOD not also about tablets and laptops ?

Are problems concerning security not focussed on documents and other types of data whcih are used to be productive ? As long as data and documents stay within corporate enviroment by using some kind of remote solution like SBC or VDI, BYOD is nothing more as Bring Your Own Display.



Agree that email is the most import part of BYOD. Jack, what is your take on business files for BYOD? Does this drive Box, DropBox, OneDrive usage on these devices whether authorized or not?


From our point of view a containerised solution - whoever owns the device - that allows full document workflow is the only sensible answer.


Any thoughts on the newer EMMs like Bushel that are geared for SMB and BYOD? Not restricting anything except the basics and containerized data rather than trying to exploit every single control provided by the OS/API manufacturers? Or is the learning curve worth it for everyone to get those finer grained controls?