Unified Communication Heats up Mobility’s Alphabet Soup

ipc-cyodAs businesses continue to evaluate how to best use mobile technologies, they must consider an alphabet soup of potential deployment options. After years of trying to accommodate a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy, companies have recently begun looking at additional options — CYOD (choose your own device) and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled).

Each acronym represents a unique approach to supporting the technologies that will allow employees to be productive from anywhere at any time. Whichever one your company chooses, a solid unified communications (UC) platform is essential for ensuring the reliable management and security of mobile devices and applications.

BYOD programs arose in response to the grass-roots growth of mobility. Employees everywhere began using personal mobile devices for work-related tasks so they didn’t have to be tethered to the office. For all the productivity benefits this delivered, IT departments were ill-equipped to manage, secure and support the vast numbers of mobile devices that began flowing into their organizations.

Security is the primary concern. These devices open up the risk of malware as well as the loss of sensitive information. Even with the development of corporate policies and the adoption of measures such as password protection, two-factor authentication and data encryption, many organizations remain concerned.

A recent survey of IT decision-makers by International Data Corp. (IDC) found that while mobility spending is expected to increase over the next year, security issues and cost overruns are persistent problems. These issues have organizations considering other options. IDC finds that 74 percent of enterprise organizations in the U.S. either already offer or plan to offer a CYOD program for employees in the coming year.

In a CYOD program, employees can choose from a limited selection of approved devices with the preconfigured security and control that IT needs to protect company data. The employee is responsible for purchasing the device, but the company usually owns the SIM and the legal rights to the data.

In the third model, COPE, employees are supplied a phone by the company but are allowed to use it for personal communications. While this allows much stronger company governance, the business costs for procurement and management are much higher.

No matter the model, it is vital that mobile devices be integrated into existing communication infrastructures. This is where a powerful UC solutions such as ShoreTel Connect can make a huge difference. With ShoreTel Connect, mobile workers can move beyond voice, text and email communications and utilize video and file-sharing applications for deeper collaboration.

From a corporate viewpoint, ShoreTel Connect has built-in features that make mobile devices easier to manage and to secure. AES-256 encryption ensures secure communications. Device- and user-level authentication with digital certification provides secure access, and a built-in VPN relieves users of the need to continually re-authenticate. Additionally, ShoreTel’s “dual persona” technology lets users maintain separate personal and business communications on a single device.

Administration is simplified with ShoreTel Connect’s location-aware policies and enterprise directory integration. A virtualized mobile router automates software updates, eliminating the need for manual upgrades and end-user intervention.

Today’s full-featured mobile devices have become indispensable business tools, and workers increasingly need to use these devices to connect to the corporate network. Security and management issues have led organizations to look for alternatives to BYOD programs, and CYOD and COPE models offer compelling benefits under the right circumstances.

However, having a powerful UC solution may ultimately contribute more to an effective mobility strategy. No matter how device provisioning is handled, a platform such as ShoreTel Connect offers built-in features that improve a company’s ability to manage, secure and support mobile devices.