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

Photo via Forbes

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 much-talked-about 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.

The BYOD concept actually emerged in 2005, but met with resistance right through 2009 when Intel was one of the first major corporations to introduce the policy into the workplace. The concept really exploded in popularity at the beginning of 2012, as shown by the Google Trends chart below.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 18.04.54

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.

The CYOD only rose to prominence in 2013, after the hype of BYOD was countered with arguments of the risks that BYOD introduced to the workplace.

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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).

A Quick Face-Off

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.

Widespread Adoption

BYOD, CYOD, COPE aren't the only types of device policy that have been defined by analysts and management. There are a whole slew of other options as researchers rush to divide the broad concept of BYOD into a range of policies with differing levels of corporate IT control. The following are just a few examples: CAPO (Corporate-Approved, Personally-Obtained), EQUAL (Equipment Under Approved List), or the dreaded, highly-unrecommended CHAOS (Corporate Handles All Operating Systems). No matter the policy, one thing is for sure, some form of policy which allows employees more freedom to use the device they want is here to stay. We at Lua are seeing adoption across all kinds of industries: large venues such as the EverBank Field, major events such as the PGA Tour, healthcare providers like Medical Imaging Specialists, and even the U.S. Government are just some of the companies embracing Lua.


The important thing to note is that just thinking about the device policy alone is never enough. Once you get the devices in the hands of employees, you also need to ensure you are putting business-ready apps on them to unleash the full potential of the device. That's why Lua built our mobile communication solution for the enterprise from day one: your organization has very different needs from consumers, and require technology that takes those considerations into account. Besides communication, think about MDM, storage, note-taking, and other business workflows.

When deciding on your organization's policy, do not pigeonhole 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. Also, do not forget to spare some thought to the business-ready apps that you would equip your employees with.

Has your company implemented any of these methods? Comment below or email us at to tell us about it!