COPE: The Secure Alternative to BYOD

By TechZone360 Special Guest
Scott Kraege, Director at MOBI wireless management
September 14, 2012

Everyone is talking about BYOD (bring-your-own-device), with most people finding that security is the biggest issue with BYOD programs. As the BYOD conversation begins to dwindle, the discussion will turn to the next wave in mobile trends: COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled). COPE gives both employers and employees the freedom of BYOD, while also offering a slew of benefits to each party.

How it works

The “corporate owned” portion of the COPE policy helps companies keep their networks and information secure, which has become one of the biggest backlashes of 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. This kind of ownership grants the company the right to wipe or disconnect devices on the corporate network, and ultimately offers the company pre-established security just like the pre-BYOD days.

While 77 percent of BYOD employees dislike the use of MDM (mobile device management) on their device, the “personally enabled,” or “PE,” aspect of COPE changes that as it allows employees to choose the company approved device they prefer while also enabling them to use it both personally and professionally. Employees are allowed to choose the company-approved device they prefer from the predetermined list, which enables them to utilize their device for both personal and professional – a common perk of BYOD.

The first step in instituting COPE is for the company to select preferred devices based on what its wireless environment is suited to support – think Blackberry RIM vs. Apple iOS. With this approach, a company can select, say a Blackberry 9300, at no additional cost, and if an employee wants an iPhone, then the company only pays a predetermined amount (e.g. “cost threshold”), such as $50. Employees then pay the remaining amount as outlined in the COPE policy. This can also be implemented in a way that the company doesn’t select any preferred device, but instead sets only a cost threshold for all users no matter the device.

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

Transitioning to this kind of program might seem like a headache, but MDM outsourcing helps IT departments seamlessly roll out COPE and maintain its features. In addition to working directly on this kind of program, MDM companies, such as MOBI, can assist in adding more advanced features, troubleshooting, optimizing bills and handling administration.

Employee and employer benefits are plentiful and hard to resist. COPE doesn’t just offer the feel of a BYOD policy, it truly gives employees the opportunity to customize both their device selection and data plan with the help of their company’s IT budget. These kinds of plans typically come with discounted offers, too. But, it doesn’t stop there as employees will also have the support system and help they need from their IT departments and MDM representatives (if companies choose to contract one). And, employers reap benefits all the same. Costs can be controlled and cut by pooling minutes, lowering costs per device, having manageable budgets and offering 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.

Scott Kraege is a director at MOBI wireless management, a company that combines a centralized web-based portal, ongoing expense management and 24/7 end-user support to help businesses better manage mobile telecom programs. Launched in 2007, MOBI set out to help companies lower wireless expenses, enhance end-user support, enforce wireless policy and save valuable time.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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