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BYOD, CYOD, COPE: which approach should you take?

How to choose between BYOD, CYOD and COPE approach
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In today’s work world, where more and more companies are embracing remote and hybrid work, employees need the ability to get their work done wherever they are. 

But for CIOs, that presents a few challenges—including what devices employees should use to do that work.

When it comes to employee devices, CIOs have three main choices: BYOD (bring your own device), CYOD (choose your own device), or COPE (company owned/personally enabled). So, the question is, what are the pros and cons of each type of strategy—and which approach is the best choice for your business?

Bring your own device (BYOD)

In a BYOD environment, employees perform their work on their own devices, whether they’re working remotely or in the office. When employees are working remotely, they simply log in and do their work from their device, whether that’s their home computer, their mobile device, or a laptop while they work from a coworking space.

Also read: [Expert Opinion] Evolution Of The Workstation: What CIOs Need To Know

Pros

A BYOD model has a few different upsides, including:

  • Less expense. When your employees use their own devices, you don’t have to purchase devices for them—which cuts down on a major expense and can help save budget.
  • Less training. People are typically the most comfortable—and the most proficient—with the devices they use on a daily basis. By allowing your employees to use their personal devices for work, you eliminate the need to train them on new technology—which can help increase efficiency and, again, save budget.

Cons

While there are definitely benefits to allowing your employees to bring their own devices to work, there are also some drawbacks, including:

  • Less secure. When your employees are using their personal devices for work, you have less control—which can lead to security issues. For example, an employee might download an application your IT department hasn’t vetted or approved—which could put sensitive company data at risk.

Also read: Shadow IT: The Sword of Damocles Hanging over Companies

  • More work for IT. When all your employees are using different devices, your IT department has to support all those different devices—which creates more work for your IT team. For example, instead of training your IT team on how to troubleshoot software issues on one operating system or device, you’ll need to train them on how to provide support for any and all operating systems and devices used by your employees—which takes more time, effort, and expense.

Choose your own device (CYOD)

With a CYOD model, employees have the opportunity to choose which device they’d like to use for work—but it has to be from a list of approved devices provided by the company.

Pros

For the IT department, CYOD has significant benefits over a BYOD model, including:

  • More control. When the CIO and IT department gets to choose which devices their employees are approved to use, it gives them more control—which can help keep data more secure. For example, the IT team might exclude devices with obvious security vulnerabilities from their list of approved devices—and restrict their employees to devices with the most secure features.

Also read: Hybrid Work: How to Secure Company and Employee Data

  • Fewer devices to support. When employees can only choose to work from a limited list of devices, IT has fewer devices to support. Instead of having to learn how to support every device, they can focus on providing the highest level of support to a shorter list of devices—which translates to less training and a higher level of IT support for your employees.

Cons

But, just like BYOD, CYOD isn’t without its own drawbacks, including:

  • More employee training. If you’re going to require your employees to choose from a short list of approved devices, it’s pretty much guaranteed that a percentage of your employees will have never used that device before—which means you’ll have to invest in training them on how to use it properly.
  • More expense. You’ll also have to provide them the devices you want them to use—which can eat up your budget. For example, you can’t require your employees to use Androids as their mobile device—and then make all the iPhone users within your company go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a new phone.

Company owned/personally enabled (COPE)

Company owner/personally enabled—or COPE—generally refers to mobile devices. Instead of having employees use two separate phones—one for work and one for personal use—the company provides a mobile device that the employee can use for both personal and work reasons.

Pros

COPE can be a great solution, both from an employee and an IT perspective, for a variety of reasons, including:

  • No need to carry two mobile devices. Most employees don’t want to have to worry about two different phones—and what they’re doing on each. (For example, are they going to be reprimanded for making a personal call on their work phone—or vice versa?) Having one phone for all their needs, both personal and work-related, can simplify things for your team.

Also read: How to Reinvent the Employee Experience in the Era of Hybrid Work

  • Better communication. When employees are trying to keep track of two phones, they may be less responsive. For example, they might check their personal phone more regularly and miss an important email or text message on their work device. By streamlining their mobile device use, you can stay connected with your team, which enables better, faster, and more efficient communication.
  • More control. When you provide your employees’ mobile devices, it gives you more control over what’s on the phone and how they’re able to use it (for example, by blocking certain applications)—which can make for more secure mobile activity.

Cons

While COPE can work well, both from an employee and an organizational standpoint, there are some drawbacks.

  • Employee privacy. Having a phone that’s owned by the company—but used for personal use—can make some employees uncomfortable. For example, some employees may be uncomfortable with the company they work for having access to their personal photos, emails, or text conversations.
  • Increased cost to the organization. In a COPE model, the company owns the phone—which means you have to invest in the devices for your employees. You’ll also have to foot the bill for at least part (if not all) of the employees’ cell phone bills.

Final verdict: which approach should you take?

Clearly, BYOD, CYOD, and COPE all have their pros and cons. So, the question is, which approach should you take for your business?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. While BYOD might be the perfect setup for one organization, it might pose too many security risks for another. While CYOD might be a solid compromise for company A, it might feel too limiting for the employees of company B. And while COPE might be the perfect mobile solution for one business, it could prove too expensive for another.

The best way to decide which approach to take is to evaluate your business, your team, and your needs—then choose the structure that feels like the best fit. For example, is security your main concern? Then you might consider going with CYOD over BYOD. On the flip side, if you don’t deal with much sensitive data and want to save budget, BYOD might be the better choice. 

Ultimately, as CIO, the way you approach devices is up to you—and now that you understand the pros and cons of BYOD, CYOD, and COPE, you’re armed with the information you need to make the best decision for your organization.

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Of course, choosing between BYOD, CYOD and COPE is not the only challenge CIOs are facing today. What are the new IT challenges related to hybrid work? And how can the CIO successfully navigate those challenges? Read our article “Hybrid Work: What Are The New Challenges For The CIO?” to know more:


Author: Deanna deBara


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