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BYOD vs COBO vs COPE vs CYOD: What’s the Difference? Which is Right For Your Organization?

Technology has drastically changed the business world. Employees rely on devices to complete everyday tasks and deliver high-quality services and products for a solid bottom line. Now, the average worker uses 2.3 devices for his or her job, according to Small Business Trends. This could include leveraging a laptop, smartphone and tablet, among other hardware options. The point is that these devices allow staff members to stay connected from anywhere and be productive when not in the office.

As with any new technology, mobile devices come with a set of considerations and concerns over how to manage them effectively. Organizations want to ensure that any investment yields value and meets critical operational pain points. There are currently four main mobile strategies that companies can leverage, but it will be important to know what each approach entails to determine which one is right for your mobile efforts.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

When the iPhone debuted in 2007, it kicked off consumerization of IT to an unprecedented level. People have become increasingly connected and utilized their smart devices for a wide range of purposes. It’s no wonder that employees would seek to use hardware that they are familiar with for work purposes. A BYOD plan ensures that staff members don’t need to carry an additional device and can be productive from virtually anywhere. A 2016 industry survey found that 72 percent of organizations support BYOD for some or all of their employees, reflecting the rising demand and potential for this technology.

While BYOD can certainly bring a number of benefits, including the decrease in overhead support costs, it also has considerable problems that organizations must understand and prepare for. For instance, if an employee downloads an unauthorized app and allows it to interact with business data, it could result in a breach or other major consequences. Despite this, the industry survey found that only 14 percent of respondents had adopted a mobile application management tool. Security remains a major concern for businesses considering a BYOD approach, and it’s only becoming more complex as devices evolve. For organizations considering BYOD, it will be important to establish a solid policy, teach employees about proper mobile use and implement strong security measures to make it work.

Company Owned, Business Only (COBO)

When mobile devices first started surfacing, organizations managed them as they would any other piece of hardware. Under a COBO policy, companies supply workers with a device to use and restrict this hardware for business use only. Employees often weren’t given a choice for what device they would have. For many businesses, that device was the BlackBerry. The rise of the BlackBerry as an enterprise-grade mobile device stuck with organizations for a number of years and remains a strong presence within COBO approaches.

BlackBerry is a classic example of devices used within a COBO environment.

Of course, technology has majorly changed since the BlackBerry became the de facto choice for business use. COBO is largely outdated in today’s high-connectivity, cloud-enabled world, as it’s difficult for employees to access multiple types of content from the same device. Organizations that have an onerous set of compliance requirements and data leakage implications are the most likely candidates to use COBO, BlackBerry Managing Director Sunil Lalvani wrote for The Economic Times. This approach gives control back to IT departments and restricts smartphone usage to work-related activities. Companies effectively reduce their risk while providing a mobility option.

“72 percent of organizations support BYOD for some or all of their employees.”

Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE)

COPE is currently seen as a potential alternative to BYOD that upholds business security while also providing employees with the flexibility they want. TechTarget contributor Robert Sheldon noted that workers leverage devices issued and sanctioned by the organization but can also use this hardware for personal tasks. Although IT loosens the reins a little bit for this approach, they are still able to watch behaviors on devices connecting to the network. This means that IT can easily monitor and protect devices as well as limit choices for what hardware, services and apps workers can use.

Employees experience the same benefits of BYOD, while eliminating the concern over how sensitive data will be protected. Workers can still post, tweet and play games through the devices as well as use them for work purposes. They are be able to choose from certain services and apps that are approved by the IT department. This approach is much more effective in preventing workers from leveraging programs that could compromise devices and line-of-business resources.

CYOD allows businesses to choose what devices they support.

Choose Your Own Device (CYOD)

With the amount of devices emerging every year and the various operating systems within each one, it’s hard for business IT departments to accurately predict and prepare for all of the mobile variations that they will need to support. Rather than leave everything up to the employees, organizations can use CYOD as a means to strike a fair middle ground. Under this approach, businesses compile a list of approved devices that will meet critical needs for the organization and employee. IT Briefcase contributor Mitch Black noted that organizations can configure the device with the necessary applications to enable productivity and protect sensitive data. Businesses are fully responsible for invoice management and securing the device appropriately.

CYOD is a blend of approaches that will help organizations better support active hardware, but also ensure that workers are able to operate effectively. In some cases, employees own their phones and can keep them, or the company might provide a stipend to pay for phones for the duration of an individual’s employment. IT won’t have to deal with so much variability through CYOD, while still providing flexibility and privacy for users. However, it’s necessary to dedicate resources to keeping the list of approved devices up-to-date and adjusting support capabilities appropriately.

Understand Your Needs

Enabling mobile devices is a challenge, but not an impossibility. CYOD, COBO, COPE and BYOD all offer a means to support mobile efforts, but they have critical differences that could impact your business and user experience. Leaders must choose the approach that best matches the organization’s culture as well as overall needs. To find out more about enabling and securing mobile devices within any of these environments, contact Faronics today.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.