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Q&A: COPE model can't match benefits of BYOD

In this Q&A, wireless and mobile advisor Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group discusses why he thinks BYOD is the superior mobility model to COPE.

BYOD has become the prevalent enterprise device model, but many experts predicted a strong challenge from one alternative: the corporate-owned, personal-enabled model, known as COPE.

While bring your own device (BYOD) has held strong, the COPE model hasn't yet made significant inroads in the business world. Mobile expert Craig Mathias, principal with the advisory firm Farpoint Group, is ready to call the battle between BYOD and COPE, saying BYOD wins in a knockout.

In this Q&A with SearchConsumerization, Mathias discusses why COPE is viable for highly regulated industries but doesn't compare to the benefits of BYOD for general enterprise use cases.

Has your opinion of the COPE model changed, positively or negatively, over the past year or two?

Craig Mathias: No, [it's] about the same. In general, we recommend against it. Users already have their own phones. Why should the organization spend money on yet another one? Who wants to carry two phones?

Mobility management is still required, regardless. It's a very clever acronym, but it's of limited value in today's world. In some restrictive circumstances, it's the way to go. But in the general case, people don't want to carry two phones, and they're not going to carry a phone with a large set of restrictions placed on it without additional incentives that would place an even greater financial load on the organization.

For example, you could give them a free phone and say, 'You don't have to pay anything for it at all,' and let them also use it personally. I'm just at a loss to understand why organizations would want to take on an additional amount of capital and operational expense when they don't have to.

You will never convince me that by eliminating 100% of the capital expense and sharing the operating expense, BYOD is going to be more expensive in the long run.
Craig Mathiasprincipal, Farpoint Group

What about the argument that says COPE provides greater control and security than BYOD?

Mathias: Security is the major concern [with BYOD], but no security strategy is perfect -- COPE has no real advantage here. With the right enterprise mobility management software, which you need even in the case of COPE, I don't think you have a lot to worry about. Security is the one area of IT where you're never done, but you can deal with that quite effectively via strong authentication, effective encryption, central policy management, and just as importantly, consciousness-raising.

Businesses forget to remind [their employees] the only thing that most organizations have of any real value is the information that belongs to them. If you can keep consciousness completely raised and put in place reasonable controls, BYOD should save you money and everyone should go home happy.

Another concern some people have with BYOD is cost control. Can BYOD cost more than COPE?

Mathias: I know there have been plenty of articles about how much BYOD costs, and if you do it wrong, it costs, there's no doubt about that. But you will never convince me that by eliminating 100% of the capital expense and sharing the operating expense, BYOD is going to be more expensive in the long run.

Could major developments this year change your opinion? Could Windows 10 end up making Microsoft devices relatively compatible with COPE?

Mathias: I am intrigued that Microsoft might actually get it right, but they haven't for many years. They've lost a lot of momentum, but having everything be Windows -- your tablet, your PC, your desktop, your mobile phone -- that does hold some appeal.

Regardless, the end user wants an iPhone or an iPad or an Android device. If people don't want to use it and won't be productive with it, what's the point? I'm not saying that's going to be the case with Windows 10, but my guess is that Microsoft, which has a miniscule share in mobility today, is likely to remain miniscule for the next few years. Windows 10 is not going to set the world on fire.

What other changes could affect perceptions of COPE and BYOD?

Mathias: I think the eventual transition away from apps and toward cloud-based solutions will further lessen the appeal of COPE over time. Somebody may say, 'I really should be using my company-issued phone to do this, but I like my iPhone so much more, so I'm going to do it there.' That's when you've got trouble, so you really need to be able to manage the data. I want all the data to stay in the cloud; I don't want it on the device. That's really the only way we're ever going to be able to provide real security.

Next Steps

Video: Mobility experts discuss COPE

Why enterprises should consider COPE

This was last published in February 2015

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Have you found any advantages to using COPE instead of BYOD?
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The issue with personal devices is security and even though BYOD may have lower security features, we understand that COPE is neither perfect and therefore it has no real advantage. We believe that with good enterprise mobility management software, it will be easier to manage either of the options. Even though security issues are always evolving, we ought to always ensure strong authentication, conscious-raising, effective password or data encryption and proper central policy management.
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While it is always nice to have a backup for anything, having two phones really is excessive, as Craig points out.
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