Cisco, Sanofi have different mobile, BYOD strategies that both focus on users

April 30, 2014

SAN FRANCISO – Brett Belding, a senior manager of IT at Cisco Systems, and Brian Katz, Head of Mobility Innovation at pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, don’t claim to have figured out all the answers when it comes to managing mobile deployments, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t learned a few things.

“Mobility isn’t just about where you work, but enabling workers to get stuff done. It’s a mindset,” said Katz, during a session on mobility strategies at the CITE conference here that wrapped up Tuesday.

That mindset led to Sanofi passing on a more popular version of BYOD policy that lets employees bring their own smartphone or tablet to use on the corporate network in favor of a so-called COPE policy. With COPE, for Corporately-owned, Personally-Enabled, Sanofi provides employees with a corporate-owned device so they're not limited to just their desktop or notebook computer, but the employee can use it for non-work purposes. “They can play Angry Birds,” joked Katz, or use it to check their personal email.

Belding says Cisco also eschewed a more traditional BYOD policy in favor of what Cisco calls a Trusted Device Policy.

(Don’t miss the “What are the best ways to secure and manage tablets and apps in the enterprise?” session at the TABLET STRATEGY conference in New York on May 6, 2014)

“It’s like the sign at the fair that says you have to be this tall to ride the ride,” says Belding. Essentially the policy is based on security clearance. If you have a PIN security code you can use your own device.

Katz says Sanofi has something similar he calls Managed BYOD where there are levels of access to corporate data, apps and networks. For now, Sanofi, which is in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, only gives mobile device users access to email, calendar and contact info.

“We haven’t bought into BYOD completely,” he concedes.

Belding says the key to Cisco’s success with device deployment is finding out what users want and to the extent possible, giving it to them. “We don’t want to be in the business ‘No” but in the business of ‘Know’,” he quipped. That includes an enterprise app store at Cisco and a list of recommended apps based in part on what users have said they want or need.

And Cisco’s got a lot of employees to keep happy including about 50,000 users of Apple devices, 35,000 of which use iPads. “If IT doesn’t give users what they want, our users will use it anyway,” he says.

One example was the adoption of Box cloud storage which Belding saw was being used by many staffers informally. “We basically asked and crowd-sourced our decision and everyone lined up to get it,” he said.

Katz said users “love it” when they’re given a few choices in a category of app to choose from.

Don't skimp on Wi-Fi

Both Katz and Belding are big fans of in-house Wi-Fi to save on LTE phone charges. “Once you have BYOD, users start bringing in all kinds of devices, an additional tablet, a Kindle and more. We are a tethered society,” he says.

He also said that so-called Green, environmentally designed building can block cell signals making it difficult to use cellular devices. “Wi-Fi becomes huge. “If you don’t provide it you are going to lose people,” he says.

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