Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, has obvious pitfalls for companies and managed IT services, starting with significant security risks. Yet BYOD is widely popular among employees and even, to a certain extent, IT support services that don’t have to provide the deep support necessary for a corporate-owned device. At the same time, IT workers have reservations about BYOD. After all, they’d have to clean up any data leakages or system hacks that could result.
Some companies have tried to address the security issues by prohibiting certain types of devices in a BYOD environment. For example, last year IBM banned the use of iPhones with the voice activated Siri service because of the potential for disclosure of confidential information.
But some have questioned this approach. After all, how effective will a BYOD policy be if a company finds itself banning a number of devices, such as smartphones, tablets – and even phablets (more on them in a moment)?
A Middle Way Emerges
A middle way is emerging, though, and it might even gain traction as mobile computing’s form factor continues to shift and employees start bringing even more device types to work. That middle way is being called Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) policies. Under it, employees are issued corporate-owned devices but are allowed to, even encouraged, to access personal information and applications from them as well, within reason.
Employees are bound to push back against COPE, though. BYOD has become expected among younger workers – all workers, really. People want a device tailored their way, Philippe Winthrop, VP of Strategy at VeliQ, told ReadWriteWeb recently. “You could call it the Frank Sinatra Syndrome,” Winthrop joked.
However the IT support services department might need summon the will to push back a little harder – and the personalization allowed under COPE should certainly serve as a sweetener to disappointed employees.
The main reason is that the mobile computing environment will get only more complex and diverse, making BYOD that much more difficult to manage in IT.
The Rise of Phablets
Consider the expected rise of phablets. For the uninitiated, that’s a combination smartphone/tablet. There were nearly 83 million phablets shipped in 2012, according to ABI Research – an increase of 4,504 percent from 2011. ABI Research predicts that more than 150 million phablets will be shipped in 2013, accounting for 18 percent of all smartphone shipments. Apple is among a slew of manufacturers, including Samsung, said to be considering a market entry in this category. Companies are already recognizing the value phablets can bring to an organization. DISH Network, to give one example, deployed the Samsung Galaxy Note to thousands of field technicians last year.
But the features that make these devices so attractive to companies – the larger screen of a tablet married to the 24/7 portability of a smartphone – also pose an increased security risk. In short, their larger screens will draw even more business-related app developers, while their portability leaves the devices open to hacking.
Unless that is, they are part of a COPE environment. That won’t eliminate the threat completely, but it will help. At least, that’s how company executives are likely to start viewing the situation as the security vulnerabilities of BYOD become ever more apparent.