When the term Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) started cropping up, a lot of us thought it sounded like some fun, special day at the office. Sure, we’ve all heard of Take Your Daughter to Work day — why not Take Your Android or iPhone to Work Day as well?
Turns out, it wasn’t as lighthearted as that. It’s a dead-serious topic that speaks to the way personal mobile technology is overlapping with our professional world. We like our devices, our smartphones and tablets especially, and it makes sense that we want to see their convenience and connectivity improve how we do our jobs.
Cue the opening of Pandora’s proverbial box.
In a pre-BYOD world, enterprise gave employees their own devices. We all loved that, remember? Hooray! The company is paying for my cell phone! Mobile Device Management (MDM) was straightforward. Companies installed what they needed. Employees used those apps. End of story.
Then, people started bringing in their own devices. It makes sense to encourage their use because if an employee likes his or her device, they’re more prone to use the enterprise apps that help a company deliver its services. This also means MDM considerations for a diverse realm of devices.
But if the enterprise wipes the employee owned device, is the enterprise liable?
The good news is that MDM vendors can selectively wipe apps or data. You don’t have to kill all the user data and wipe the phone. But this brings up the question of MDM intensity: Do you really need a robust, expensive MDM vendor that can do everything, or do you need a “good enough” MDM vendor? This might be the most overlooked discussion in terms of BYOD.
For the most reassuring BYOD strategy, it might make sense to offer MDM capability, just not on a massive scale. There’s no need for total device control. Today, it’s possible to provision an employee’s phone with email credentials, VPN, or whatever business-essential apps it might be running. That might be a better (and far more cost-effective) solution for BYOD. It is certainly less intrusive and less expensive than a heavyweight MDM answer.
Our counsel to clients has been to take a deep breath before going full-tilt MDM. Obviously, we make our hay as champions of Mobile Application Management (MAM) an app-driven (rather than device-driven) approach that approaches the appdev lifecycle — deployment, management, configuration, updates, etc. — from within the app itself. If total MDM is one end of the spectrum, complete MAM constitutes the other. Either end might be the best option for an enterprise, or a hybridized approach implementing aspects of both. The point is that MDM and MAM do not have to exist in opposition. Combining them can be highly effective, and our forthcoming eBook, MAM + MDM=BMS (Bada$$ Mobile Strategy) elaborates on this idea. Simply put, it’s a case of finding the right tool for the right job.
If you’re working for an organization with lots of sensitive customer data, a total MDM partner is the right call. But if your apps are not operating in higher-end classes with extremely sensitive data, if you’re just deploying inventory management or sales force automation apps, for example, you should ask yourself if paying for an MDM solution of that magnitude makes sense. Why make that kind of investment if the risk, exposure, and potential revenue loss isn’t there? Why impose a cumbersome MDM solution on users who aren’t dealing with sensitive info, who are just using apps that facilitate business? MAM might be a much better answer.
And really, for all the braying about BYOD, let’s recognize that at a macro level, enterprises are still issuing devices. Yes, leading-edge tech companies are driving BYOD awareness — but we’re just at the onset of the trend. Certainly BYOD is coming, but hasn’t hit yet at a macro level. Until it’s a concern that resonates enterprise-wide, implement your solution with respect to what your needs, risks, and liabilities are.
Do a little homework. Evaluate your infrastructure, your user need, your level of data sensitivity. Then, you can make an informed decision about the right BYOD approach for your enterprise.