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Reader Forum: COPE vs. BYOD in 2013

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our weekly Reader Forum section. In an attempt to broaden our interaction with our readers we have created this forum for those with something meaningful to say to the wireless industry. We want to keep this as open as possible, but we maintain some editorial control to keep it free of commercials or attacks. Please send along submissions for this section to our editors at: [email protected]

It’s evident that bring-your-own-device programs have gained significant traction within enterprise mobility programs. And while everyone continues to talk about BYOD, most companies and IT departments are finding that security is the number one issue with managing BYOD programs. And as the BYOD conversation begins to die down, the next wave in enterprise mobility trends – corporate owned, personally enabled – could soon dominate the discussion. COPE is considered the secure alternative to BYOD and one that gives both employers and employees the freedom of BYOD, while also offering a wide range of security and financial benefits to both parties.

COPE is best broken down into two phases. The “corporate owned” portion of the COPE policy assists companies in keeping their networks and information secure, which is one of the most biggest issues companies face when using the traditional BYOD program in the workplace. “CO” means that the company still owns the line of service and selects its preferred device and usage cost thresholds for employees to consider when signing up their device. By declaring this kind of ownership, the company reserves the right to wipe or disconnect devices on the corporate network when necessary (say, a security breach ensues), and ultimately offers the company pre-established security just like the pre-BYOD days in business.

Although a recent study showed 77% of BYOD employees dislike the use of mobile device management on their device, the “personally enabled,” or “PE,” aspect of COPE allows employees to choose the company approved device they favor while also enabling them to use it both personally and professionally. This second phase of COPE aligns the program more closely with BYOD, as it keeps the personal and professional usage tied together. Employees can choose the company-approved device they want from the predetermined list and then use the device for both personal and professional matters – again, a common perk of BYOD.

An initial step in instituting COPE is for the company to select preferred devices based on what its wireless environment is suited to support – think BlackBerry, Android and Apple iOS operating systems. With this approach, a company can select, say the new iPhone 5, at no additional cost, and if an employee wants an Android phone then the company only pays a predetermined amount (e.g. “cost threshold”), such as $50. Employees then pay the remaining amount as outlined in company’s COPE policy. Companies can also set a cost threshold for all users no matter the device, so that no matter which phone an employee chooses, they will always get only the predetermined amount (e.g. $50).

Usage costs operate similarly to cost thresholds for devices. Whatever the company does not cover in its cost threshold for usage is the responsibility of the employee. Companies choose a predetermined amount they will pay toward usage fees like voice minutes, texting, data, multimedia or international plans. By setting these limits, the company is able to control the outcome of each monthly bill and avoid unnecessary overages without limiting an employee to a single device or plan.

Transitioning to a new program can seem like a daunting task, but outsourcing wireless mobility management helps IT departments seamlessly roll out a COPE program and maintain its features. In addition to working directly on this kind of program, WMM companies can assist in adding more advanced features, troubleshooting, optimizing bills and handling financial administration.

COPE doesn’t just offer the feel of a BYOD policy, it actually gives employees the opportunity to customize both their device selection and data plan while keeping IT within budget. Often, these kinds of plans can sometimes come with discounted offers. The added perk for employees is the support system and help from their IT departments and MDM or WMM representatives (if a company contracts one). And, employers reap benefits all the same. Costs can be controlled and cut by pooling minutes and setting caps on how much the company covers on device purchases, which keeps budgets manageable and offers continual optimization. In some cases, giving employees the ability to customize their plans can ultimately result in productivity outside the office. With COPE, the employer also has control over things like carrier, device preference and MDM capabilities.

Within the COPE program model there are dozens, if not hundreds, even thousands of ways to configure program rules and policy from devices to services to usage. Ultimately, COPE is just another program foundation for enterprises to better manage their unique user communities. Will you consider COPE as we head into the New Year?

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