The ongoing battle between bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate-owned, personally-enabled (COPE) has taken another turn in favor of BYOD, according to a recent Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) report. The information technology research and advisory company predicted that half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes by 2017, shifting the BYOD momentum into a higher gear. Has mobile device management (MDM) turned client computing into more of a cultural issue? We'll reveal the answer, along with other key findings from the report.
First, Gartner defined BYOD in its report to avoid confusion among industry leaders. The research firm's definition revolves around three major points: the ability for users, business partners and other users to leverage a personally selected and purchased device to access business data; the option of including PCs in a BYOD strategy; and the possibility of a company subsidy for the purchase of devices. With that being said, which main points should we be focused on?
BYOD drives innovation for businesses
According to Gartner, BYOD drives innovation for business owners and CIOs by the increase in demand for workplace mobile applications by users -- a phenomenon that Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) Director of Product Marketing Ken Drachnik predicted back in March. This demand could present a moneymaking opportunity for managed services providers (MSPs) -- on both the front-end and the back-end of applications.
A lack of understanding of BYOD, however, could restrict or slow innovation down, said Gartner Vice President and Analyst David Willis in a prepared statement.
"Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case," he said. "Like other elements of the Nexus of Forces (cloud, mobile, social and information), mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable. If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the benefits it will bring to them and to the business."
ScienceLogic Inc. co-founder and CEO David Link said via email that vendors face a challenge of keeping up with technology and understanding where BYOD, MDM and MTM will go.
"The future of MDM is changing as fast as use case scenarios are being dreamed up for the 'Internet of Things,'" he said. "What it means from a cloud perspective is that we have to prepare for an absolute deluge of MDM and MTM performance, event, security, configuration data that these devices send to a management platform, so that corporate IT can stay proactive and build policy management using extremely granular data elements across an exponentially expanding number of devices."
BYOD benefits companies of all sizes
BYOD, according to Gartner, can be seen in businesses and governments of all sizes, but it's most widespread among large and mid-sized organizations ($500 million to $5 billion in revenue, with 2,500 to 5,000 employees). Smaller businesses, however, still have a tremendous opportunity to gain from the trend. Many small businesses lack the budget to pay for mobile devices, which may include additional service charges. BYOD enables these businesses to go mobile, without dishing out the extra cash.
COPE peaks its head out from the trench
Security is still the top major concern for BYOD, a small sign of hope for COPE supporters.
BYOD also has hidden costs, said Mani Gopalaratnam, a supporter of COPE, who heads the architect team and innovation at Xchanging and is the CTO for the Asia-Pacific region.
"Gartner's prediction of BYOD as a norm for over 50 percent of employers is based on the current perception of cost reduction. But the hidden costs of information security and lack of control are going to change the BYOD model significantly," he said. "A model like COPE will be more adoptable and will begin to change the landscape in the near term."
BYOD lands the final blow
While COPE may work for some businesses, BYOD seems inevitable. Whether businesses realize it or not, employees are leveraging their personal devices for work purposes, and vice versa. MSPs will adapt and stay ahead of the game.
"We're finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for nonwork purposes," Willis added. "They often use a personal device in business. Once you realize that, you'll understand you need to protect data in another way besides locking down the full device. It is essential that IT specify which platforms will be supported and how; what service levels a user should expect; what the user's own responsibilities and risks are; who qualifies; and that IT provides guidelines for employees purchasing a personal device for use at work, such as minimum requirements for operating systems."