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BYOD, CYOD, COBO and COPE: What’s the difference?

Updated: Oct 28

If an employee came into work with a new smartphone and wanted to use it for official corporate business, would you let them?


The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) question is becoming more and more common among IT teams and management, and for good reason; They want to bring this enhanced productivity into the workplace to consolidate their personal and corporate productivity tools into a single personal device. However, this approach gives rise to a number of security and management concerns -- Should the device be secured in the same way as corporate devices? Can employee and corporate data be separated? How will billing and maintenance be handled?


Most organizations understand the need for flexibility when it comes to employee mobile devices. However, in order to keep security and costs in check, they must balance employee preferences with IT, tax compliance, and security requirements. Fortunately, there are multiple ways companies can handle enterprise mobility management. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the four main device management models: BYOD, CYOD, COBO, and COPE.


Device management: BYOD vs CYOD vs COBO vs COPE

When it comes to device management, there are four main models that companies can choose from -- BYOD, CYOD, COBO, and COPE. The first allows employees to use their own devices for work, while the next three require them to use company devices. While there is no right or wrong answer as to which option is best, there are differences between these models that companies should be aware of before moving forward.


Basics of BYOD

Basics of CYOD

Basics of COBO

Basics of COPE


Basics of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

What is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device, allows employees to buy and use their own personal device for work. Instead of using a corporate owned device, employees access work-related systems, applications, and data from their own phone, tablet, or other mobile device. While there are certainly many benefits of a BYOD program, it has some major drawbacks that are important to consider.


Pros of BYOD

BYOD is a versatile device management model that is popular for a number of reasons:

Cost. By allowing employees to bring their own devices, companies no longer need to foot the bill for procuring, storing, and managing mobile devices for employees.

Employee ease. Employees are most familiar with their own devices, and want the flexibility to use their own phone rather than switching between corporate and personal. Plus, bringing their own device allows them to use both personal and corporate apps.

Personal line. If an employee brings their own device, they’ll also need to use their personal line, which avoids the hassle of losing contacts when they return their corporate device.

Increased flexibility. Having access to work materials around the clock gives them the ability to work anytime and anywhere. or on their commute.

Less liability. Without a fleet of mobile devices to manage, there’s no liability for device maintenance or the need to hire a dedicated support team.


Cons of BYOD

Despite the many benefits brought forward by BYOD, there are some risks associated with the model:


Security. Without MDM (mobile device management), it’s difficult to separate corporate data from personal data. So if an employee uses unsecured wifi, downloads a malicious app, or loses their mobile device, sensitive corporate information could be at risk.

Lost connections. If the employee brings their own device on a personal line, all of their contacts and connections associated with their phone number go with them when they leave.

Lost data. In the event of a security breach, termination, or resignation, the employees’ phone should be wiped. But if they’re using a personal device, there’s no guarantee that it will be.

Compliance. In order for BYOD to work properly -- and securely -- you’ll need to introduce policies, guidelines, training, or even contracts to ensure your corporate data is not at risk. This can be time-consuming and it isn’t always effective.

Necessary guidelines. In order to prevent complications, you’ll need to set guidelines for BYOD device management. You’ll need to think about eligibility, funding amounts, employee privacy, legal details, responsibilities and liabilities, and more.

Downtime. Without a dedicated support team or replacement mobile device on hand, downtime for a lost, stolen, or broken phone can be a large obstacle. Instead of swapping out an old device or referring the employee to your support team, they’ll need to call their carrier, wait for shipping, then set up the new device. And if they can’t replace it, the wait gets even longer.

Lack of management. With different devices and softwares in use, it’s much more difficult to manage, monitor, and support all of the devices in your organization.

Compatibility issues. Depending on employees' choice of mobile device, some required company applications may not work. On the other hand, it's possible that personal apps and data conflict with corporate work.


Basics of CYOD (Choose Your Own Device)

What is CYOD?

CYOD, or Choose Your Own Device, is a device management model where the company compiles a list of approved devices that employees can select from. Sometimes employees are responsible for purchasing a device from the list, but most often, employers purchase the devices on behalf of employees, then set them up and deploy them. Once set up, the company is in charge of managing and monitoring employee devices.


Pros of CYOD

CYOD provides flexibility similar to BYOD, but with reduced security risk. Here are a few reasons why CYOD is growing in popularity:


Control. CYOD gives companies far more oversight than BYOD. Rather than giving employees free reign with their devices, companies can use MDM to better manage and monitor all device usage.

Security. By setting up and deploying devices directly, companies can ensure they are secure by separating personal and corporate apps/data by containers, loading the device with necessary applications, requiring a passcode, and more. It also allows the IT team to create and manage backups in case a device is lost, broken, or stolen.

Easier management. Having employees choose from a list of approved devices means less variation than everyone bringing their own. This limits the number of different models and operating systems, making it easier to manage the fleet and control expenses.

Familiarity. Giving employees the option to choose their device increases the chance that they’ll be familiar with it, reducing the amount of time it takes them to get comfortable using it. Plus, it’s a nie work perk to be able to pick the device you prefer.

Limited downtime. If devices are supported by the company, there is generally less downtime than if devices are managed by employees.


Cons of CYOD

CYOD is a great middle ground between employee and company-owned devices, but there are a couple drawbacks to consider:


Dedicated resources. Whether the employee or the company purchases the devices, the company may be responsible for providing support, which can be a significant cost.

Inconsistency. Even though employees choose from a list of approved devices, there is still variation in model and operating system that will require additional work to manage.

Cost. If the company decides to purchase the devices, there is a large upfront cost, along with the ongoing costs of managing them.


Basics of COBO (Corporate-Owned, Business Only)

What is COBO?

COBO, which stands for “Corporate-Owned, Business Only,” is a device management model that only allows for business use. In this configuration, the company purchases mobile devices for its employees and sets them up with all work-related apps, tools, and other essentials. Unlike BYOD, employees don't have a choice as to which model they get, and personal use is prohibited.


Pros of COBO

COBO is a great option for companies that want more oversight over their enterprise mobility. Here’s why:


Security. COBO devices are often limited to kiosk, single, or multi-app functionality, so there is lower risk of security breaches from personal use. Plus, they often have MDM software to further increase security.

Oversight. Since all devices are managed on behalf of the company, there is increased visibility and management over device usage, data accessed, and more.

Less downtime. In the event that a device becomes unusable, the employee can quickly be transferred to the support team and/or given a replacement device to use while they wait for the original device.

Consistency. With all devices being consolidated to the company, it's easier to ensure that employees have all of the tools they need, that their devices are running the latest software, and that they have access to company data.


Cons of COBO

While COBO has many positives, there are a few downsides to look out for:


Cost. Unlike BYOD, companies that adopt the COBO model are on the hook for the purchase, setup, and management of ALL employee devices.

Inconvenient. Employees would rather avoid the inconvenience of having to swap back and forth between two devices (personal and corporate) throughout the day.

Dedicated resources. Now that all of the devices are the company’s responsibility, a decision must be made whether a dedicated support team must be hired (or designated internally) to maintain the devices and their network.


Basics of COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled)

What is COPE?

COPE stands for “Company-Owned, Personally Enabled.” It’s essentially the best of both worlds, as it allows for the security of COBO with the convenience of BYOD. With the COPE model, the company purchases devices for its employees. But instead of restricting them to business use only, they first set up all of the security features, then enable the device for personal use as well. This ensures that IT teams can monitor device usage and maintain supervision of devices, while allowing employees the flexibility to use devices as they see fit.


Pros of COPE

The COPE model is a great option for companies who want the oversight of company-owned devices but the flexibility of personally-owned ones. Here’s why:


No lost contacts/connections. Unlike BYOD models, COPE allows the company to keep the device and phone number when the employee leaves.

Security. Corporate data is put first, so security concerns are a much smaller threat. All devices are equipped with the applications, updates, and data directly from the company.

Control. Paid with MDM, COPE can give IT teams and managers visibility over their employees’ device usage, which ensures that devices are being used properly and that corporate data is not at risk.

Flexibility. By giving employees the ability to use their devices for personal matters, it eliminates the need to carry two devices and switch back and forth. Employees like this.

Limited downtime. Like COBO, COPE allows companies to swap out broken devices for new ones, or refer employees to the support team to fix their issues.


Cons of COPE

Despite the benefits above, keep an eye out for some of the drawbacks that stem from COPE:


Cost. Like COBO, companies must purchase and set up all of the employees’ mobile devices, so there’s an initial cost for the devices and ongoing costs to support them.

Limited functionality. Since business use is put first, employees may have limited functionality when it comes to using their device. Limited storage space, incompatibility with certain apps, restrictions on specific behaviors can all get in the employees’ way.

Dedicated resources. With a network of devices under the company’s control, a support team may need to be hired in order to maintain them.


Final thoughts

The debate between employee-owned and company-owned devices has been a long one, largely because there is no right answer. Each option is appealing for its own reasons, but there are always drawbacks to consider. If you’re unsure about the right path for your company’s enterprise mobility management, contact us to find out how a managed service provider can help.

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