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BYOD, CYOD, COPE: What Does It All Mean?

by Mark Adams, on October 7, 2014

Original article at

BYOD, CYOD, COPE: What Does It All Mean?

As people become more and more tied to their own smartphones, companies have to take their employees’ desires into account when they decide how they want to handle their own communications. There are three main schools of thought when it comes to this decision that range a spectrum of freedom for employees: BYOD, CYOD, and COPE.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): employees get full responsibility for choosing and supporting the device they use at work because they’re bringing in their personal one. This method is popular with smaller companies or those with a temporary staff model.

Choose Your Own Device (CYOD): employees are offered a suite of choices that the company has approved for security, reliability, and durability. Devices work within the company IT environment, but the employees own their phone — either they paid for it themselves and can keep it forever, or the company provided a stipend and they can keep it for the duration of their employment.

Company-issued, Personally-Enabled (COPE): employees are supplied a phone chosen and paid for by the company, but they can also use it for personal activities. The company can decide how much choice and freedom employees get. This is the closest model to the traditional method of device supply, Corporate-Owned Business Only (COBO).


BYOD has been heralded in the past few years as a way of making your employees happier because they feel trusted and of lowering hardware costs, but it’s also been called “bring your own disaster.” This is because there’s no corporate control with BYOD: security, reliability, and compatibility all go down. What’s a company to do when their employees span not only Windows, Android, and Apple, but also different versions of these different platforms?

While business traditionalists may respond with COPE, this method faces other criticisms. While security and compatibility are no issue if devices are all chosen by IT, the fact that IT has visibility into and ownership of employee’s “personally-enabled” devices raises some concerns about privacy.

CYOD solves many of these issues. Companies retain control over a pre-approved list of devices, IT doesn’t have to deal with so much variability, and employees have more flexibility and privacy. CYOD only works, however, if IT dedicates resources to keeping the list up-to-date, and analysts agree that most companies will struggle with this.

The definitions for each of these acronyms differ slightly across sources, so the important thing is not pigeonholing your strategy. Instead, take this opportunity to reflect on what’s most important to your company in terms of your employees’ mobility – security or flexibility? lower upfront costs or compatibility? – and go from there.