Advantix's Abe Romero reviews the multiple "BYO" acronyms, what employees expect and how channel partners can help their customers manage the complexity.

Channel Partners

February 18, 2014

6 Min Read
Help Your Customers 'COPE' With BYOD

By Abe Romero

Acronyms run rampant over the business landscape, and the excessive use of the BYO terminology is convoluted and extraneous. If CEOs and CIOs  not to mention channel partners  are not confused now, they soon will be as new technology, applications and software are developed and take on the dreaded BYO” prefix. Besides Bring Your Own Device, the expanding list also includes BYOA (Bring Your Own Application), BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) and BYON (Bring Your Own Network) just to name a few.

The BYOD landscape has evolved so much over the past few years that the new terminology needs clarification as well as a clear understanding of how companies will address the challenges of each BYO focus.

Bring Your Own Application (BYOA). Personal applications are a major part of everyday work life. Employees use their own applications  file-sharing apps, messaging tools, email to increase work performance. File sync and cloud applications like Dropbox are popular and are much more prevalent for personal use than work. The exposure of company data in this scenario is a forgone conclusion.

IT departments initial responsibilities included securing, encrypting and locating personal devices. Now those have expanded to include provisioning useful apps. For Android devices, the threat is especially real as malicious apps that mimic legitimate apps number as many as 11 new types per hour. Intelligent personal assistant applications such as Siri also add security risks due to voice-to-text conversion. What you ask, sensitive or not, is filtered through outside servers and people can see that information. To combat the increased security risk, Gartner is predicting that by 2017, enterprises will provide their own app store to accommodate the 25 percent increase in the number of smartphones and tablets in the workplace.

Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). BYOT is a broader view of BYOD that enables employees to bring their personally owned devices and software to work. Employees benefit by having familiarity with their own devices and preferred software. The downsides to BYOT are heavily weighted toward the company with increased risk to loss of data only retrievable through the employees software and devices.

The reality is that BYOT is a relatively new phenomenon (since 2005) and something that has a big potential for catastrophic security issues. Regulatory issues, including Sarbanes-Oxley, also need to be considered. For employees, additional levels of authentication may be required when accessing devices and certain software. While companies may appear permissive with devices, they cannot afford to operate without an ironclad policy.

Bring Your Own Network (BYON). BYON are personal hotspots and serve as employees’ response to Internet restrictions at work. These personal hotspots allow access to content such as social media and music downloads that are blocked on the corporate network.

Organizations handle BYON security issues in one of three ways:

  1. creating corporate policy to forbid employees from using personal networking devices at work

  2. creating a secondary secure mobile network that employees are allowed to access with personal devices

  3. mandating employees sign a form holding an employee personally responsible for loss of data or security breaches into the corporate network because of the employee’s device

Legally, this tactic does not hold much water but the real payoff is the employees are now very aware of security implications when using their own devices on the company pipe.

BYOD Policy: Indifference and Rebellion

With the concept of BYOD and its iterations clarified, how does an organization manage and govern the onslaught of new technologies? The short answer is not very well. Once a policy is defined, new technology pops up. New applications are developed daily, and some are designed to circumvent BYOD policy altogether.

A new one, BYOIT has the potential to be a major pain for IT departments everywhere. BYOIT is a trend that demonstrates the employees expertise in managing their own devices without the need for any IT support or governance. That essentially means there are no rules.

Some employees already have mastered the art of avoiding BYOD policy altogether and can play “Words With Friends” for hours undetected. When it comes down to it, people do not want to be told what to do with their own property.

To make matters worse for BYOD, Gen-Y’s attachment to devices is something they take personally. They feel embarrassed to use a device that doesnt reflect their lifestyle. A survey performed by Cisco found that 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of employees would accept a lower-paying job with a choice of a device than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. BYOD as a solution has many challenges, the most prevalent being a workforce that values freedom over productivity.

COPE Methodology

Managing BYOD is akin to juggling keeping all the balls up in the air as more balls are added. Pretty soon, one of those balls is going to drop. The critical question is, which ball will it be and how badly will it affect an organization? The clear answer to the BYOD experiment is the COPE (corporately owned, personally enabled) methodology. This is the tried-and-true solution to combat the potentially catastrophic issues that arise in the BYOD model.

For channel partners, the challenge is how to effectively speak to a clients needs while explaining the risks associated with the BYOD model. If the company already has a BYOD model in place, the answer is a solid mobile device management (MDM) program that governs policy, enforces compliance, manages apps and assets, and ensures security.

But MDM also has some cons, such as personal privacy issues, expense to the company ($4-$6 per device) and one more system for IT to manage. A channel partner has a much better opportunity of explaining the risks and challenges to a prospect if they are in the beginning stages of a company deciding between BYOD and COPE.

With COPE, the policy lines are clearer and more enforceable, especially with the regulation of devices and software. From a financial perspective, the average BYOD cost to the company hovers around $75 per user per month. This blanket approach to compensating employees for the conjoined use of their devices robs companies of their bargaining power with carriers that would ultimately bring down their entire telecom spend.

Channel partners should encourage COPE as an increasingly attractive model for businesses to ensure device security and control, and provide the choice employees prefer. If successful, channel partners can take some credit for paring down the 20 acronyms to one. That’s one we can all “cope” with.

Abe Romero serves as marketing director for

Advantix Solutions Group

. He has worked as a marketing professional for the past 20 years in sectors including security, technology and telecom.

Twitter: @askadvantix


Learn more in the session, “BYOD: Turn Business Risk Into Partner Revenue,” at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

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