BYOD? More like CYOD as companies still set the parameters

The agony of the appearance of superficial choice

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Companies are rapidly expanding the volume of mobile devices used by their employees. The number of devices enrolled in business grew by 72 per cent during the whole of last year, compared with 2013.

Moreover, a Good Technology survey in the first quarter of 2015 found 72 per cent of those devices ran iOS, 26 per cent Android, and one per cent Windows.

Apple’s share among tablets is 81 per cent, and Android 15 per cent. Samsung dominates Android activations – so much so, that 28 or the top 30 devices in Q1 were Apple or Samsung.

Yes, the employee-driven device strategy seems to be here.

And yet ... this is not the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) nirvana vendors are trying to sell. Rather employees are being allowed to choose from a tight list of approved devices (Choose Your Own Device).

Devices making the CYOD list are those proven to work safely with the company’s security, mobile device management and mobile application management systems. For these approved devices the company will (or should) have developed or sanctioned a secure email client, secure browser, secure IM, document editing and access as well as developing custom native apps, or browser-based interfaces to essential corporate systems.

For all its advantages, though, is there a no one-size-fits-all policy on CYOD.

A survey (in US, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia) by Check Point from last year found that as many as 75 per cent of companies allow personal devices to connect to corporate networks, but a (considerably larger survey in UK, France and Germany) by IDC also from late last year suggests that only a minority of European companies have such a policy.

Marta Fiorentini, IDC senior European research Analyst, told The Register: “The majority of companies in all three countries do not have a policy that allows their employees to bring, choose or use their own devices; however, when adopting a policy, CYOD is preferred over BYOD."

“The UK appears to be more flexible than France and Germany, and around a quarter of UK companies tolerate the use of personal devices. When they do have a BYOD or CYOD approach, tablets are allowed in just under 40 per cent of cases,” she added.

Firms might not be buying BOYD but employees are – perhaps they are the real target for tech vendors. It’s employees who want to use the best device for work and who are prepared to pay for it. Forrester reckons 73 per cent of employees are happy with the technology they have at home, while just 59 per cent were happy with the tech at work; 30 per cent said they were willing to invest their own money in a tablet, if given the choice.

That’s despite the fact there are considerable downsides for employees: these include having to pay for, maintain and insure the device themselves, pay the bill and then try to claim back expenses on business-related voice and data, they fact they are potentially always on call and might be tempted to answer emails or notifications from a business app as they keep the device outside of work hours, and – finally – they are granting the employer access to their device in the name of device management.

Interestingly, privacy seems to be the biggest concern employees have of sharing their device with work – although they got the wrong end of the stick. A 2013 MobileIron Trust Gap survey suggests as many as 70 per cent of employees don’t trust their employer with personal data.

But the survey revealed the existence of some major misconceptions about what the boss can or can’t see on their mobile. Employees tend to underestimate the visibility employers have into company data on their devices (email) and consistently overestimate the visibility their employers have into personal data.

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