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Mobile device management has become alphabet soup

Jen A. Miller | Oct. 2, 2015
The BYOD movement, once looked on as the holy grail of employee satisfaction and IT mobile device security, is increasingly being supplanted by a number of options – such as COBO, CYOD, COPE – that draw a thicker line between personal and business uses.

Mobile device management illustration

Get a job and a company-issued cellphone and computer in exchange? Stop living in the past, man. Companies don’t necessarily operate this way anymore, especially as our work and personal lives become more and more intertwined. 

But BYOD isn't the only acronym in the game, especially since employees are pushing back. According to a recent survey conducted by Bitglass, 57 percent of employees – and 38 percent of IT professionals – do not participate in their company's BYOD program because they don't want employers to have visibility into their personal data and applications. 

Plus, being able to wipe an employee's phone doesn't always keep your company's data safe. Not only can a good hacker prevent wiping a phone by putting it into airplane mode, but your employee might not even report the device is missing. A 2014 survey conducted by ZixCorp found that while 59 percent of employees would immediately report a lost device to an employer if the employer had the capability to wipe the phone, 12 percent would wait a few days, 3 percent would wait a week and 5 percent would wait over a week. That's a long time for your corporate information to be floating out in nefarious hands. 

Here are a few alternatives. 


Corporate-Owned, Business Only is the model that most companies have used in the past: We give you a device, but we tell you to not do anything personal with it. 

Almost from the start, says Nigel Johnson, vice president at ZixCorp that's never been reality. As soon as he got his first work email address, which was supposed to be used for internal communication, he broke that rule. 

"C'mon," he says. "The second I could communicate with my wife externally, I was communicating with my wife externally." 

No matter how many rules or safeguards you try to put up, employees will use those company devices for personal use, which could open up the business part of the device to attacks. 


Choose Your Own Device is almost like BYOD except that instead of an employee bringing in a device to use for work, he or she can chose from a range of options approved by the company – and the device is usually owned and maintained by the company. 

According to Insight, 65 percent of North American and European users use CYOD tablets today. Of those, 58 percent were purchased by the user, 18 percent were purchased by the employer, 17 percent were discounted through the employer and seven percent were partially reimbursed by the employer. 

CYOD can work because it gives employees more flexibility in how they work in to be most comfortable and productive (think of the millennial who's always worked on Apple products and wouldn't want to switch to a PC) while also giving the employer control of those devices. CYOD doesn't mean that employees can chose whatever they want, either. That would drive your IT department to the brink. The best policies, according to Insight, give employees options through a range of approved devices from a list of approved configurations.  


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