BYOD or CYOD: Which mobile trend is right for your organization?

By Karin Kelley, on


These days, it would be surprising – and concerning – if mobility and the consumerization of IT were not part of any mobile enterprise’s strategic roadmap. After all, end users have become more demanding about which devices they use and where they log in from the network. They expect the same user experience that they get from the powerful personal mobile devices they are already accustomed to.

Though the first mobile trend that emerged to address this new world was bring-your-own-device (BYOD), many enterprises are understandably concerned about the security of sensitive corporate data in a BYOD model. Enterprises are increasingly considering implementing a choose-your-own-device (CYOD) program to address those very legitimate concerns.

BYOD and CYOD explained

As the name implies, BYOD programs let users access their corporate data and applications from personally owned devices. This approach has some clear advantages for businesses, including:

  • Eliminating capital expenditure on hardware and services
  • Keeping employees happy and productive
  • Reducing contractual obligations with telecommunications service providers

Though this may sound like an ideal solution, BYOD introduces some serious security and management issues, primarily because the environment is highly decentralized. To manage BYOD, enterprises must make significant time and cost investments into mobile device management (MDM) systems. Further, if the device is lost, stolen or broken, sensitive corporate data can be compromised on a device that hasn’t been configured according to corporate security and compliance policies. It also becomes problematic for companies when it comes to replacing devices.

CYOD is a newer variation of the BYOD concept. In this model, enterprises give employees a choice as to which devices they will use from a predetermined and preapproved list of options. This gives the employee a greater sense of control of the technology they use and can lower hardware support costs as administrators arguably have a greater understanding of the devices themselves. Administrators can also configure these devices with the necessary security software, policy-based administrative controls and network settings in a more centralized way.

However, users may not be happy with the devices that are offered through a CYOD program, thereby diminishing their engagement and user experience and ultimately reducing productivity. Organizations are also responsible for procuring the hardware and ongoing management costs of MDM, eliminating the cost benefits of BYOD. With that said, the increased security in a CYOD model can significantly outweigh these costs.

Which option is the best fit?

Though both BYOD and CYOD have their respective benefits and drawbacks, organizations must be careful when choosing the right model for their business needs. First, the end-user experience is of utmost importance. Unsatisfied tech-savvy users will ultimately work from whatever device best suits them. In both models, businesses also need to ensure they have data loss prevention and protection systems in place. Finally, to decide which mobile trend will work best, enterprises need to work together at all levels of the organization, including IT, human resources, legal and line-of-business owners.

Though businesses are largely looking at BYOD or CYOD models, there is another mobile trend that is emerging: corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE). In a COPE program, businesses buy the devices for employees but allow personal use.

Whichever model an enterprise deploys — whether BYOD, CYOD or COPE — security, user experience, productivity and cost should be at the core of the overall enterprise mobility strategy.

About The Author

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years at 451 Research, where she spearheaded coverage on emerging desktops-as-a-service (DaaS) markets. She has extensive expertise in enterprise infrastructure software and services, as well as a deep understanding of SMB, MSP and hosting markets.

Articles by Karin Kelley
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