BYOD vs. COPE vs. provisioned: That's the wrong question to ask

If you start with the answer, you'll force-fit the real needs into it, which is a surefire way to not address those needs

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If you are in IT, though, it's a completely different story. You get left with the battle-scarred pieces that you have to implement and make work in a way that proves out the deciders' answer, whether they are right or not. It isn't hard to imagine why so many businesses are struggling to have cohesive strategy these days.

The approach should never be to predetermine the model, then fit the variables to it and make the math work for it. You remember doing that in school, don't you? You had the answer to a question, but the teacher wanted you to show your work. You puzzled through the equations and hoped you could find one that fit. If it didn't, you found a way to muddle the numbers, so at least it seemed to work out correctly.

The question that you should be answering all along is "What is the right tool to enable my users to be the most productive and efficient they can be?" The goal of technology should be to enable users, and IT has to learn to live this or risk the rise of shadow IT.

The answer can never be a stringent model that doesn't take into account the work that your employees do. It becomes a question of what allows them to be flexible and agile, which helps increase their productivity and efficiency while still being able to have a life.

Once you start looking at what your employees are doing and how they fit into your business, you can look at the overall tools that you want to use. It may make sense to let employees buy their own devices because the apps that they are going to use will work well on any device; they are agnostic to the OS and will let them be productive. In other cases, you may have employees going into hostile environments that need ruggedized devices that can withstand their daily job. Or maybe they manage personally identifiable or other sensitive information that you need to keep secure at all costs. You may have apps that are only designed for one or two devices. In some cases, the correct answer may be they need a tablet instead of a smartphone.

You see, the correct tool isn't just the device, but the combination of the device and the app. It's the experience that allows them to tap into a properly coded back-end API that gives them the appropriate information in the best way on the right device that makes it the best tool.

The same thing happens in the cloud arena. There are times that a public cloud makes the most sense and times when a private cloud makes more sense. It depends on what type of workloads you are running and what the boundaries are, such as whether they are regulated. You may have workloads that don't fit into a traditional cloud and legacy applications that will be too expensive to rewrite that it makes more sense to keep them in the traditional data center or in your own private cloud designed for those legacy workloads. You may need response times that you just can't guarantee on a public cloud.

It doesn't matter what the parameters are: You are looking for the best tool that fits those parameters.

Let's stop continually debating along these IT battle lines and start looking at what the best tools are. Let's start looking at our business goals and how employees are equipped to achieve them. Let's figure out the best tools that give them the best user experience and allow them to be more flexible and agile, producing better results faster. Let's stop worrying about overarching models that are inflexible and instead embrace the chaos that breathes life into our enterprises.

Only through asking the right question do we give ourselves the opportunity to lap the competition and stay ahead in this crazy world of business. We all have access to the same toolbox when we start, it's really a question of what tools we decide to put in it that informs our future success.

This article, "BYOD vs. COPE vs. provisioned: That's the wrong question to ask," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at InfoWorld.com with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at InfoWorld.com or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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