What’s corporately owned, personally enabled, and still irritating for IT?

The idea of “COPE” will supposedly address many of the concerns around BYOD. And yet . . .

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In its 2014 outlook for ICT spending in Asia-Pacific, International Data Corp. ranks the impending death of bring-your-own device as the top trend for this year.

“2014 is the year where (enterprises) realize BYOD as a mobility strategy is dead,” IDC predicts.

Who’s behind BYOD’s potentially imminent demise? Not Mrs. Peacock in the library with the candlestick, but IT managers in the enterprise still trying desperately to keep a grip on security. Patience is wearing thin: 60 per cent of the 895 IT and security specialists surveyed late last year by the Ponemon Institute are unsatisfied with current BYOD solutions. They blame the lowered security parameters – and higher security costs – of BYOD.

Alas, IDC said it “expects a new trend to emerge” in 2014:  the corporate owned personally enabled (COPE) device. The man to thank for yet another acronym is Philippe Winthrop, global mobility evangelist at IT vendor CSC. Here’s how Winthrop first described COPE in a February 2012 blog post:

  • IT provides workers with the mobile device of their choice
  • workers can install personal content and apps on the device
  • the company retains ownership of the device and all corporate data on it

Winthrop’s model has gained supporters (including Canadian analyst Carmi Levy) for its apparent benefits over BYOD:

  • security: it’s easier for corporate to install and monitor security on the devices because it owns them and is wholly responsible for maintaining them
  • legal clarity: corporate can wipe lost or stolen COPE devices (courts in some jurisdictions have ruled against this practice on BYOD devices); the device goes back to the company after the worker’s employment ends; the smartphone number stays with the company, not the worker, making it harder for departing staff to take clients with them
  • user choice: workers can still choose the device
  • cost savings: enterprise device and rate discounts leveraged with COPE are cheaper than consumer prices employees pay through BYOD

COPE isn’t a panacea for every mobile device issue. Regardless of who ‘owns’ the devices, organizations still have to secure their networks, respect and protect user privacy, and craft (and enforce) clear mobile policies. IT managers have already grappled with these things under BYOD. But COPE may give them clearer parameters to work it all out. Workers retain more choice than they had pre-BYOD, while companies take back some of the control they lost with BYOD.

In a blog post last August, Gartner analyst Heidi Wachs wrote that several organizations are already dipping, not diving, into COPE.

“Companies are not using solely one approach or the other. Many seem to have a hybrid COPE/BYOD environment,” Wach wrote. “Many organizations do not have mature, developed programs rolled out but rather are still in the preliminary planning/test phases.”

Wachs suggested an aptly named theme song for this evolving approach to enterprise mobility: Blurred Lines. (Yes, even tech analysts get their groove on.) Stay tuned to see if COPE adds clarity to a mobile management picture that’s still a little murky.

Next step: Download the white paper, ‘Best Practices for Managing BYOD,’ from Frost & Sullivan.

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