BYOD vs CYOD: IT leaders explain their preference

By Graeme Burton
03 Dec 2013 View Comments

In the old days, before tax-raising politicians turned their attention to corporate perks, the company car was the key status symbol that ambitious executives used to assert their rank.

Further reading

Top executives had a Jaguar or Mercedes. Go-getting sales people had top-of-the-range Ford Mondeos. Middling sales people and other mobile workers made do with Vauxhall Astras. And Kevin, the idiot who wrote his car off on a regular basis, had to slum it with a Ford Fiesta.

Today, though, the company car as a perk has been all but killed. Instead of choosing cars, the corporate hierarchy is maintained with smartphones and other mobile devices: top executives won’t go anywhere without their top-of-the-range Apple iPhones, key sales people and middle managers might have a Samsung Galaxy S3, and sales hoi polloi will have old BlackBerrys thrust upon them.

In many organisations, though, the smartest devices are owned by staff, not the company, and the pressure they have exerted to use them for work has forced “bring your own device” (BYOD) upon employers. Some organisations, meanwhile, have countered this by extending a “choose your own device” (CYOD) policy instead in a bid to combat the “anarchistic chaos” of BYOD.

The complexities of managing both of these two approaches provoked the biggest-ever audience for a Computing IT Leaders’ Forum, especially with Intel business IT envangelist Stuart Dommett (pictured second from left) explaining the semiconductor giant’s own well-established BYOD/CYOD strategy.

Early adopter

At Intel, a CYOD policy was adopted early on for laptops, driven by business demand.

“I wanted our sales people to walk into a Dell account with a Dell machine,” says Dommett. However, Intel sales staff were typically given the same IBM/Lenovo laptop as standard, so Dommett worked with the IT department at Intel to devise a system to support laptops from up to eight different major PC vendors.

“Typically, our refresh is dependent on where you are in the organisation. You might think that’s the executives. No, the most powerful people are the sales people. They get refreshed more frequently than any executive,” says Dommett. “That’s why BYOD came about at Intel.”

Across the organisation, the company has a high proportion of mobile staff, who require laptops, as well as highly technical staff who require high-power PC workstations. All these devices are purchased and managed by the company on a four-year refresh cycle, with a handful of fussy staff also using their own Apple Macs.

In smartphones and tablet computers, though, the story is very different, with the company adopting a BYOD policy in 2009. “We have more personally owned smartphones than corporate ones connected to our network and receiving some level of access to data,” says Dommett.

Indeed, one-in-three Intel staff uses a “small form-factor device” for work purposes, he adds.
By adopting a formal BYOD policy, Intel slashed the number of unauthorised devices it found connecting to its corporate network. “It’s not about saying ‘no’, it’s about how we do it safely,” says Dommett.

Security considerations

In the public sector, says Alan Shields, strategy and architecture manager for IT services at Cambridgeshire County Council, organisations are required to adhere to certain standards by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), a group within GCHQ responsible for policing public-sector cyber security.

“CESG requires the public sector to adhere to certain security standards before it allows us to connect into centralised services” says Shields. “If we don’t comply with the necessary regulations and security then those services could be cut off. The chief executive will get a nice letter telling him he has 14 days to comply.”

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