COPE with BYOD – Motivators and the impact of Cloud

Spurred on by an article about devices as Corporately Owned Personally Enabled – or COPE for short – as an alternative to Bring Your Own Device, I had a – by Twitter standards – lengthy dialogue with Chris Tubb about the motivators for BYOD. This post is a follow-up to one of my recent posts and also a summary of my own thoughts during my dialogue with Chris.

The basic idea of COPE is that the company that has provided you with a device (e.g. a laptop) to get your work done. Instead of enforcing harsh restrictions on what you can install and what you can use the device for, you are allowed to install software and use it for the purposes that you deem fit – within reason. The big question is whether this is a real alternative to a potentially very costly BYOD strategy.

In my experience people’s needs for using their own devices for work purposes comes in three different disguises. All three are valid motivators but what I find interesting is the underlying reasons and with the idea of COPE, you also have an alternative.

1) Power and Capability
Your work device is less capable when it comes to speed and availability of software than what you are used to at home. This means that you feel less productive at work which increases your frustration. A personally enabled (COPE) device is not likely to solve this as it will STILL be the corporately sanctioned equipment.

Bringing your own device will help as this is the root cause of your frustration – you just know that you can do better. If I were to play devil’s advocate here, I would say that it is your employer’s responsibility to make sure that it is not technology that makes you less productive and if they provide inferior equipment, they must also accept inferior productivity.

2) Mobility and The Digital Workplace
Your job allows you to work from anywhere at any time. The problem is that you find the corporate devices limiting as they don’t fully support this and you will have to bring more than one device in order to take care of your personal stuff. In other words, if you are working with the digital workplace and aim to create a more coherent solution for your company, this ought to be interesting for you.

COPE fits perfectly in this scenario. I have a corporate device – I have access to tech support when I need it AND I can even use the device for what I need when I need it. Bring my own device? Why should I…?

3) Vanity and Status
Hardly a primary motivator for bringing own devices, but some undoubtedly find it very motivating to be able to flash the latest Android phone or the new iPad. COPE will not solve this as companies (almost) never will be able to provide the cutting edge stuff. BYOD is a potential solution, but also potentially VERY expensive for companies.

Either way, I see these motivators as largely extrinsic – comparable to a pay raise. It will provide a short term motivation boost but the most important long term aspect will be the intrinsic motivators i.e. your job. No amount of gadgets can make up for poor job design.

So both BYOD and COPE may work? Yes, but is this the real issue? In my job I work with creating a digital workplace that is available when and where you need it. I can’t help but think that in 10 years’ time when most things have moved to the cloud, we will look back at the BYOD discussion and wonder what the fuss was all about. Moving to the cloud simply took care of all these things by making everything accessible through a browser. Dare I mention that this has been possible for years by using a Citrix solution?

In the end this has nothing to do with devices it is all about creating a consistent and SECURE access to company assets that will allow you to use them from anywhere and from any device which makes it very important that companies carefully evaluate the motivators for BYOD/COPE in the organization and decide on a (potentially costly) path forward. Right now we are just in a situation where the road ahead is not obvious but waiting at the intersection for the light to change is just not an option.

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