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COBO: For Ultimate Security & Control in a Breach-Happy Era


Enterprise mobility management (EMM) tends to be viewed from a one-size-fits-all perspective.

It’s always BYOD or COPE or CYOD. In reality, and is the operative word when it comes to the mobile management needs of most organizations. That’s because all but the smallest businesses require a combination of management scenarios to cover their mobility needs, which vary based on geography, compliance requirements, role, risk profile and several other factors.

Different Scenarios

“It is clear that when it comes to planning and implementing a mobility strategy, there is no one size fits all policy that suits all organizations,” concludes a recent report from market research firm Ovum. “There is, simply, no single right or wrong way of doing things – but there are certain strategies and solutions that may be more of a suitable fit in different scenarios.”

The report goes on to say that organizations in regulated or highly secure environments often require a device management strategy known as Corporate-Owned, Business-Only (COBO) for at least a portion of their workforce. Ovum cites BlackBerry as being “the originator and most prominent vendor offering this all-inclusive hardware and software package for COBO deployments, and remains the leader in terms of end-to-end device security and management.”

Let’s face it – breaches happen, whether due to hacks, theft of computers or devices, or through accidental leaks or just random mishap. The resultant cost to companies and government institutions can be enormous, to the tune of hundreds of millions in the case of Target, or $3.5 million per year on average according to a study by IBM.

Unless security is truly comprehensive, you can expect to see more situations making headlines, and that security starts with the device.

BlackBerry’s COBO mobility management option is profiled in this recently released white paper.

Backed by BES10

BlackBerry’s EMM platform, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10), has evolved in recent years into a multi-platform solution for managing and securing iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. BES10 provides customers the flexibility to apply any policy model — from open BYOD to Corporate Only, Personally Enabled (COPE) and through to fully controlled COBO usage for high-security environments. In fact, government agencies, companies in regulated markets and any business that requires stringent security and control continue to turn to BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BES10 as the only end-to-end enterprise-grade COBO option.

The principal characteristic of BlackBerry’s COBO device management option is the ability to restrict usage of smartphones to work-related computing and communications activities. BlackBerry COBO also empowers IT administrators to impose highly granular device, app and data management to enable compliance.

A COBO option for enterprise mobility is designed for organizations increasingly confronted with an onerous set of compliance requirements and data leakage implications. The financial services, healthcare and public sector services in particular have been impacted by legislation in recent years that requires precise auditing of all electronic transactions, including, email, messages and voice calls.

Meeting these strict compliance requirements with less conservative management approaches, particularly BYOD, is difficult – if not impossible. This FierceMobile story from April lists some of the other security and legal ramifications of BYOD, even in less-stringent security environments. And this one, from, as does this one from CIO, question BYOD’s staying power.

Not Just Regulated

But it’s not just the regulated segment of the enterprise space that requires COBO. Business units, or even individual executives, at large enterprises often require the ultra-restrictive control that COBO enables to protect against the theft of intellectual property, data leakage, exposure to legal liability or the violation of laws or compliance rules.

COBO isn’t for everyone, of course. But the case can be made that as enterprises evolve their mobility initiatives, they will need to become increasingly vigilant guardians of corporate data. Additional revelations of cyber surveillance and industrial espionage could also contribute to a tightening of mobile security.

A possible sign of an uptick in more-conservative approaches to mobile management can be found in a May 2014 report from Strategic Analytics, Global Business Smartphone Shipments Forecast: Q1 2014 Update. Though personal-liable smartphones will continue to outnumber corporate-liable business phones by a 2-to-1 margin through 2018, the growth rate of personal-liable phones in the enterprise is decreasing at a much faster rate than corporate liable devices over the next few years, according to the report. In fact, the annual growth rate of corporate-liable devices will exceed personal liable – 11% against 10% — in 2017, projects Strategy Analytics.

COBO-to-BYOD Spectrum

The fast-moving and unpredictable nature of the enterprise mobility market has prompted organizations of all sizes to avoid making long-term EMM investments. Purchasers have been petrified by the prospect of locking in a supplier that offers an “or” approach to mobility management, rather than an “and.”

The surest path to peace of mind is to partner with a multi-platform EMM supplier that can cover, with a single platform, the full COBO-to-BYOD mobility management spectrum.


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