Devising a Mobile Device Strategy

As I previously blogged in The Age of the Mobile Device, the disruptiveness of mobile devices to existing business models is difficult to overstate.  Mobile was also cited as one of the complementary technology forces, along with social and cloud, in the recent Harvard Business Review blog post by R “Ray” Wang about new business models being enabled by big data.

Since their disruptiveness to existing IT models is also difficult to overstate, this post ponders the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend that’s forcing businesses of all sizes to devise a mobile device strategy.  BYOD is often not about bringing your own device to the office, but about bringing your own device with you wherever you go (even though the downside of this untethered enterprise may be that our always precarious work-life balance surrenders to the pervasive work-is-life feeling mobile devices can enable).

In his recent InformationWeek article, BYOD: Why Mobile Device Management Isn’t Enough, Michael Davis observed that too many IT departments are not devising a mobile device strategy, but instead “they’re merely scrambling to meet pressure from the CEO on down to offer BYOD options or increase mobile app access.”  Davis also noted that when IT creates BYOD policies, they often to fail to acknowledge mobile devices have to be managed differently, partially since they are not owned by the company.

An alternative to BYOD, which Brian Proffitt recently blogged about, is Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE). “Plenty of IT departments see BYOD as a demon to be exorcised from the cubicle farms,” Proffitt explained, “or an opportunity to dump the responsibility for hardware upkeep on their internal customers.  The idea behind BYOD is to let end users choose the devices, programs, and services that best meet their personal and business needs, with access, support, and security supplied by the company IT department — often with subsidies for device purchases.”  Whereas the idea behind COPE is “the organization buys the device and still owns it, but the employee is allowed, within reason, to install the applications they want on the device.”

Whether you opt for BYOD or COPE, Information Management recently highlighted 5 Trouble Spots to consider, which included assuming that mobile device security is already taken care of by in-house security initiatives, data integration disconnects with on-premises data essentially turning mobile devices into mobile data silos, and the combination of personal and business data, which complicates, among other things, remote wiping the data on a mobile device in the event of a theft or security violation, which is why, as Davis concluded, managing the company data on the device is more important than managing the device itself.

With the complex business and IT challenges involved, how is your midsize business devising a mobile device strategy?


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.


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