Mobility Basics Part III: What’s the Difference Between BYOD and a COBO Device?

Should employees use their own devices, or should company-owned devices be purchased? We look at both options and explain the difference between BYOD and a COBO device.

What is the difference between BYOD and COBO?
Are employees to be allowed to use their own devices, or should company-owned devices be purchased?

Once organizations have decided to allow their employees to work on the go, the question arises of HOW.

For supported mobile devices there are a few ways to manage them, which we depicted visually in our starter guide to Android device management. Either only a certain area, a so-called work profile, is managed on the device, or alternatively the complete device is managed. Choosing either a BYOD or COBO concept depends on which devices are used. We’ll now take a closer look at what the terms mean and what advantages and disadvantages the concepts have to offer.

What Is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device, BYOD for short, means that employees also use their private smartphones and tablets for work. It’s clear that this approach doesn’t manage the entire device – private user data for example. Therefore, consistent separation of private and business data is the basic requirement for this concept.

To do so, a so-called work profile is set up on the employee’s device where all business apps are managed. Documents in managed apps can then only be opened by other managed apps. If necessary, all business apps and documents can be remotely deleted from a user’s device. A set of policies can also be rolled out for the profile. Such work profiles make it possible to ensure strict separation of business and private data fully in accordance with GDPR standards. In our GDPR whitepaper, we explain in more detail how you can ensure that mobile devices are fully compliant for business use.

BYOD vs a COBO device. The work profile
The briefcase symbol indicates apps that are managed by the company in the work profile.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of BYOD?

BYOD is a good option for companies that want to avoid high acquisition costs for mobile devices. In addition, you provide your employees with a high degree of autonomy, as they decide which devices they prefer to work with.

The questions you have to ask though are whether a large pool of different devices is desirable and whether it’s sufficient from a security viewpoint to only have control over one part of the mobile device.

What Is COBO?

If you answered the last question with a no, you would be better off with a concept that manages the entire user’s device. This management approach is suitable for devices that are used exclusively for business purposes and remain the property of the company. This is called COBO – Company Owned, Business Only. A COBO device would therefore be suitable for employees have access to particularly sensitive company data.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a COBO Device?

The advantages are clear – since the company purchases the devices, a uniform system landscape can be adhered to. In addition, the company retains complete control over all apps on the device, the data and the device itself.

The price for this is reflected in the high purchase costs for devices. It must also be taken into consideration whether employees really enjoy working with the device and are prepared to constantly have at least two devices in their pockets. A balance between BYOD and COBO can be found in the COPE (Corporately Owned, Privately Enabled) strategy.

Conclusion: What to Take Into Consideration When Choosing a Concept

Whether you decide to opt for BYOD or COBO devices – both concepts lead you to the goal of increased productivity for mobile employees. What’s more important though is how much control does the organization wish to retain in its approach to mobility.

BYOD or COBO in the Cortado Console
Cortado MDM creates an Android / iOS BYOD or COBO device, and a mix of both concepts is also possible.

For either approach, make sure that your MDM and MAM solution fully meets the requirements of your concept. Cortado MDM supports both approaches with powerful MDM and MAM capabilities. You set up your devices instantly and simply choose which approach you want to use to manage them. You can even implement both concepts in parallel, for example only equipping employees who work with highly-sensitive data with COBO devices.

You can also take a look at how we deal with mobile working for our employees right here at Cortado »

Mobile Device Management for Beginners

This free white paper provides a beginner’s overview to MDM and explains how to improve mobile security.

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