To BYOD or To Not BYOD: There Are Other Options

As we all know, today’s workforce is increasingly mobile—and place-shifted. Workers sign on from home, work on the weekends and use their mobile devices to stay in touch with the office whenever they’re not there physically. Enterprises are also moving to the cloud, meaning that having anywhere, anytime access to mission-critical applications via mobile and portable devices is increasingly common.

This reality has meant that the old-school concept of the “prosumer”—an individual who blends their work and home life almost seamlessly—has morphed into the consumerization of IT on a device level, amid rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets. Employees—whether authorized to or not—are using these  personal devices to perform a variety of work functions, from tapping the corporate network and editing documents on the go, to using hosted apps and checking e-mail.

“Private usage habits are spreading throughout the professional world,” researchers at CSC wrote in a recent report on the IT consumerization trend. “Captivated by devices such as iPhones or iPads, by their user-friendliness and capabilities, users have become the agents of their dissemination in the workplace. They are prepared to use their own resources to be more productive.” Also, since employees get to use the device of their choice, and spend more time overall with the phone they use at work, that in turn leads to a slight yearly increase in average productivity.

The phenomenon is seemingly inevitable, driving a move to embrace this so-called bring-your-own-device phenomenon, or BYOD.  Eyeing the productivity gains, some companies are moving quickly to implement policies, support and management, and security to support workers using their personal phones and tablets within the corporate  infrastructure—some are merely sort of “letting it happen.” In the either case, the ramifications for how a business operates can be significant, driving an opportunity for channel partners to lend a consultative hand.

All of that said, pure BYOD is not the only option. Companies can also use a corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE) strategy, which allows companies to control the wireless procurement and management of consumer devices for the workplace.

“In many cases the business will offer corporate-liable plan that an employee can enroll their device in,” said Bo Wheeler, at reseller Entelegent, which offers wireless management and optimization services within its mobility portfolio. “Others define it as employees bringing their individually-selected device and plan to work, and the business offering open access to its resources. Clearly the former is a much better approach.”

And so, while BYOD programs can reduce costs, they typically do not. In BYOD, significant downsides exist in security requirements, management complexity and IT resource demands involved in locking down what is essentially a free-for-all that lacks standardization and control—all of which drive cost, many times hidden, into the ROI model.

For the full article on BYOD vs. COPE and the pros and cons in each, please check out the new issue of ChannelVision, available online here.

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