A new approach to mobility, or not?

A new approach to mobility, or not?

A new approach to mobility, or not?

Just as you were getting used to the 'Bring Your Own Device' phenomenon, a new approach to mobility has reared its head: COPE.

COPE, which stands for ‘corporate owned, personally enabled’ was recently touted as a ‘best of both worlds’ approach in The Guardian. The acronym was born in February 2012, when Philippe Winthrop, of VeliQ was prompted to resolve the problem of corporate liability in the mobility equation.

His approach involves companies leveraging economies of scale to negotiate good deals on mobile devices, providing employees with a shortlist of devices from which to choose, and allowing them some leeway for personal use, while retaining ownership. “You get all the benefits behind BYOD but retain the ownership from a legal perspective,” Winthrop told The Guardian.

At this point, you might be wondering how the approach is new. For Winthrop, the answer appears to be that the approach is about IT loosening its grip on staff’s use of these devices. “Go download your Facebook app, go tweet away and download Angry Birds. Just act responsibly,” is how he sums it up.

However, maybe it’s not such a radical difference after all. While Bennet Medary, chairman of the New Zealand Information and Communication Technologies Group (NZICT), has not encountered COPE, he doesn’t think the idea is a new one. “In a way, it is a reversion towards the centre right, narrowing down the options, retaining control, however being more flexible about personnel use both at work and at home,” he said.

Medary added that mobility approaches resemble COPE by default in that the options for devices here are limited. “Call it COPE or BYOD, for us it’s more about flexibility, who pays for the device, who pays for work use and who pays for personal use,” he said.

Key HR Takeaways

  • Medary recommends offering ‘agreed devices’ with controlled network access and security arrangements from anywhere
  • He also recommends that the employer pays for the devices, and their operation
  • Employees’ use should be managed so that it is ‘appropriate and reasonable’