Handling EMM, BYOD and COPE as a CIO

Are you familiar with the acronym EMM? It refers to Enterprise Mobility Management. Pretty much it’s a fancy way of referring to BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, as well as COPE, Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled. Enterprise Mobility Management is a hot topic for CIOs because it deals with issues like productivity, job satisfaction and customer engagement.

That’s the main thrust of a white paper sponsored by Blackberry. Yep, Blackberry is still around, pretty much universally despised by most in Corporate America, yet foisted on them because the devices are COPE. OK, maybe universally despised is a harsh phrase, but I’ve met few corporate types who are thrilled to show off their Blackberrys. Then again, I am an iPhone 6+ owner so I’m a bit of a tech snob.

Regardless, the white paper has some valid points to consider. Main among them is guidance on which issues to explore relevant to your organization, the right questions to ask, and, finally how to make the right decision.

The report suggests answering these questions as part of developing an Enterprise Mobility Management strategy. And, follow the important suggestion not to delay implementing the strategy. You should have had one yesterday.

Here are the questions to consider:

  • Who pays for hardware, software, and wireless services? Your organization’s purchasing power should be considered for purchasing hardware and software. But maybe employees can select the wireless services that work best for them with reimbursement from the company. No one wireless plan fits all users.
  • Are BYOD and COPE devices supported, and if so, how? And for which business units, roles or individuals? There is no simple answer for this one (if only there were). The instinctive answer is to make sure the hardware is the same for all employees, regardless. It should make promotions, transfers and separations less painful.
  • Which employees get what type of mobile device, e.g. laptop, smartphone, tablet? Add to this question, who is responsible for the devices? If they become lost or get stolen, who pays to replace them? It might be worthwhile to consider have a deductible assessed against employees who are careless with devices. A zero-tolerance policy might be harsh, but allowing three strikes may be too lenient.
  • How much security is required, for which user types, and how will it be enforced? The marketing director of a major automotive brand travels with a tablet. If it goes missing, it can be remotely wiped of all data. That seems like a basic step to consider when determining your organization’s security levels.
  • What data, applications and functions are allowed on which enterprise devices? This is especially important with BYOD used for corporate functions. There should be no mixing of approved and unapproved apps for security reasons.
  • Who supports the mobile device users and manages the devices? It should be done within the IT department or whichever department supports your computers and manages them.
  • How will you handle LCM (Lifecycle Management) when it’s time to upgrade devices and apps? One publisher I know couldn’t upgrade crucial design software on his hardware because it would mean a major investment in new hardware. Maybe you don’t need to upgrade equipment the minute it becomes eligible, but neither should you wait so long that the software no longer supports the hardware.

To all these questions, you also have to consider this: “Be sure your solution will support the devices of tomorrow, think about the track record of the providers: Are they well established, or a VC-funded newcomer? Do they have a history of innovation and anticipating enterprise needs? Do they have a clearly defined vision and roadmap for the future?” OK, so that totally sounds like a commercial for Blackberry but there’s still some validity to the point. Invest in hardware for the long term. It’s not as great a concern with software because, while expensive, it can be replaced more easily.

Is there one solution that fits all sizes? Of course not, but with just a little preparation and research, you might find yourself better equipped to find a solution that fits most of your organization. The important thing is to have a clear strategy to start. You can then build from there.

 

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.