This is where choose-your-own-device (CYOD) programs come into play. CYOD gives users choices among a predetermined set of devices, with IT controlling configuration, management and security to meet institutional and compliance requirements.
One caveat: IT managers must avoid the slippery slope of repurposing an existing BYOD program. If the institution hasn’t built a CYOD program from the outset, both management and users may resist a more formal mobility program.
Leaders can overcome this with clear buy-in from the executive side of the institution. Explain why basic BYOD won’t work.
This usually comes down to data and device security (including compliance and liability), application and device compatibility, and the ability to ensure high availability with quickly swappable devices in case of loss, theft or failure.
If leaders can clearly articulate to executives why CYOD may be a better alternative, they can extend that communication to the rest of the users to get everybody on board.
Define the End State of Your Mobility Program and CYOD Policy
As part of a mobility rollout, define a clear picture of the desired end state for mobile devices. If a CYOD program is for a single application or small workgroup, this step may be option.
But try to look at the big picture and long-term requirements for the institution, keeping in mind a framework of about six to 12 months. Use the following questions to guide this exercise. Having the answers written down and clearly stated will make subsequent steps of the process much easier.
Who are the users? Are they a particular vertical group? Are they a horizontal slice of a group, such as faculty or certain levels of administrators? How wide will this program go?
What devices are involved? CYOD usually means smartphones and tablets, but some people will interpret this to include laptops as well. Be explicit.
What level of support will IT deliver? Support is one of the highest costs in any mobility program. Deciding where IT will draw the line between devices and applications is important to setting cost and staffing expectations.
How much choice among various devices and operating systems will the institution offer? While the open nature of higher education means that users may chafe at restrictions, more choice means more costs to support the program. A single device usually isn’t enough (except for certain dedicated applications, such as in medical schools), but narrowing the pool to four or five options (plus variations such as memory and screen size) makes a manageable set for support and quality assurance.
Who’s footing the monthly bill? Devices and carriers cost real money, on top of other overhead. There are lots of models: stipends, reimbursement, cost sharing and so on. Pick one and make sure everyone knows how it’s going to work.
How will IT infrastructure have to change? All CYOD programs require a mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) tool, but IT leaders may also need to select an endpoint security suite (if risk management requires it) or bring on additional application delivery and security tools, such as load balancers or VPN concentrators. Plan for what’s needed so there won’t be any surprises.
After answering these questions, use the information to develop the CYOD policy: institutional responsibilities (scope, support and financial issues); end-user responsibilities (acceptable use, exceptions and loss/termination scenarios); and security (privacy, security management and policy enforcement).
Before You Deploy Mobile Devices on Campus, Prep for Logistics
Review existing infrastructure to be sure it meets the performance needs of the CYOD user community. A wireless audit, whether of Wi-Fi or carrier services, to ensure devices work well in critical parts of the campus is a good start.
Check bandwidth bottlenecks as well. Performance bottlenecks can also be on the application side. If this rollout is to support a significant new application, be sure the data center team knows how many new users will be coming online.
Tools such as MDM and EMM may require procurement and installation. Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 come with a lightweight MDM system that may be enough for some environments, which can shorten the purchase and installation cycle.