iPhone and Enterprise Mobility

This post is not meant to be a thorough analysis of the iPhone in the enterprise.  I am sure that much has been written on that from both friends and foes of the iPhone.  Instead we would like you to comment on why the release of the iPhone has been good (and still is) for enterprise mobility… and perhaps start a conversation.

Enterprises are not throwing BlackBerry out the window and replacing with iPhones as much as we are lead to believe.  Despite the impressive numbers posted by Apple last quarter, it would be irresponsible in an enterprise environment to tear and replace BlackBerry because of the overwhelming consumer response.  Plus it would probably be in violation of whatever policies are in place.

We can all agree that BlackBerry has served the enterprise very well over the years.  A secure and dependent platform can not be torn apart on a whim or a fad.  The BlackBerry solution is enterprise grade and has been so for quite a while.  But don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe iPhone is a whim or a fad; however, cautious IT departments should be treating it like one until it is a proven enterprise-grade solution.

A few brainstorming points about the iPhone and enterprise mobility:

The End User is King! Long live the End User!
We sometimes forget about the one critical component in enterprise mobility; the one thing that allows the enterprise to be out there and extend itself beyond its four walls.  No not technology … more important than that … the mobile employee; the end user. You and me.  Although mobility is about the device at the same time it is more about something else… someone else!  As Oliver Starr stated well over two years ago:

It isn’t what the phone does, so much as what is being done with the phone that has lead us to Mobile 2.0.

It is not what the iPhone has done… but what it allows us to do that is so groundbreaking both for the consumer as well as for the enterprise.

We All Win!
The iPhone has all the competitors pushing harder towards improvements in usability and functionality of the devices.  Everyone wins in such a scenario; the end user, the enterprise and the mobile industry.  You know what… who really cares whether or not RIM started developing their touchscreen device before Apple or as a response to iPhone?  At the end what matters is that we have more choice today… a few more examples:

  • The iPhone app store has over 8,000 applications.  Unheard of 3 years ago.  No other ecosystem built around a mobile platform even comes close to that number.
  • RIM has announced an app store of their own… who cares if it was as a response to Apple.  The main beneficiary will be the end user and developers.
  • Developers are being stretched and money is being thrown at them to develop applications for all of us… including the enterprise.
  • Choice is good… We are not complaining.

Again … it is not what the iPhone is as much as what it has pushed the industry to be.

Value and Experience
We will talk much more about this in the upcoming Financial Services and Mobility series.  But suffice it to say that with the iPhone many folks will finally recognize the strong correlation between the value that mobility brings to the enterprise and the experience of the end user.  These two things (value and experience) are not opposed to each other.

Security and Efficiency are the iPhone’s main competitors in the Enterprise
The iPhone’s main competitor in the enterprise is not BlackBerry and it is not Windows Mobile.  The iPhone hasn’t broken in because the iPhone is not ready.  Its main obstacle is not another platform but its own.  The techie in the bowels of the enterprise tasked with managing the deployment does not yet have the tools to manage the iPhone in the enterprise securely, affordably and efficiently…. (please correct me if I am wrong).

Truly it is just a matter of time before the iPhone becomes universally accepted as an enterprise grade solution.  I am sure there are many smart people working on that and it will be so.  Which platform wins when this happens I believe is still up for grabs… But what we can say for certain is that enterprise mobility will be much farther ahead than what it was before the iPhone arrived on the scene and that it will be for the better!

What do you think?

8 thoughts on “iPhone and Enterprise Mobility

  1. Jim Hollinshead

    Good Content!

    As you say, adding the iPhone to the Enterprise Mobility mix is good for the end user. BlackBerry Security and iPhone Ingenuity will combine to create CHOICE for the end user.

    The End User does Rule and the taboo associated with iPhone in the Enterprise only fans the flames of end user demand. Proof that “cool” still sells…

    The “techie guy in the bowels of the enterprise tasked with managing mobile deployments” will have the tools and I absolutely concur that it is just a matter of time before the iPhone is accepted as an enterprise grade solution.

    I would only disagree with one point you make. In the twinkling of an eye, the Platform will become moot as enterprises adopt Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions that enable the IT Shop to centrally manage virtually any device, regardless of manufacturer, Operating System, or Mobile Operator, from a common interface. Best in Class MDM Solutions have one key component in common, FLEXIBILITY; The ability to apply existing IT Policies to the MDM Software determine its value and its potential. As you aptly point out, Smart Minds (not in the bowels of the Enterprise) are actively metriculating this information.

    The other big question that always comes up from wary enterprise’s is: “What if the device is lost?” Good question… Solution? Create a virtual private cloud where no corporate (regardless of the method of transport) is ever exposed to the public internet. In the spirit of providing information and not an infomercial, I will resist the temptation to tell you that AT&T can create this private pipe quickly and very inexpensively!


    Jim Hollinshead
    ATT Mobility
    Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimhollinshead

  2. CAS

    In the spirit of disclosure, I will admit I am a BlackBerry fan. Have been for years. Used them, supported them, recommended them. However, I am a techie and I am not so obtuse as to not recognize the iPhone as revolutionary. In true Apple style, the interface is almost magical. But as far as enterprise readiness, it has a long way to go.

    Reading through the Enterprise Deployment Guide (http://support.apple.com/manuals/en_US/Enterprise_Deployment_Guide.pdf) there are a few striking issues:

    1. iTunes is required to setup/upgrade the device and install applications. While IT shops struggle to limit software for supportability and security, adding iTunes to hundreds of corporate PCs screams policy issue. Is it the IT helpdesk who will troubleshoot issues with consumer software designed to download music and movies? Further more, these are mobile devices, why do I need to tether them to manage them?

    2. iPhones are limited to 5 policies when integrated with Exchange ActiveSync. This points out the true disadvantage of a generic Mobile Device Management and probably the reason why products such as ZENworks Handheld Management or CA Mobile Device Management do not have the penetration of vendor specific solution – an integrated solution provides true integration with the device. This probably brings up the argument of “open” vs. “closed” platforms, but single platform management systems work more seamlessly and are more feature rich due to this integration. And if the MDM products are just using vendor supplied APIs, why not choose the vendor’s product in the first place. Not to say that all IT policies provided by the BlackBerry solution are relevant, but the policies should be able to support a corporate mobility policy without limitation.

    3. Applications. The iPhone store may have 8000+ applications, but does an enterprise really achieve the true value of mobility using an application that pours a beer on the screen based on position of the device. Once iPhone has the support of SAP, Siebel and other mobile workforce related applications, it will begin life as a true enterprise device.

    In terms of choice, consumer and enterprise environments are not the same. As a consumer, I want the device that supports my lifestyle. As an enterprise, I want a device that improves employee productivity without sacrificing security, management and control. BlackBerry is a true enterprise grade mobile platform and has started to integrate lifestyle appeal. iPhone has that cool factor, but is not even close to an enterprise grade solution. As an enterprise, I think the choice is obvious at this point. Time will tell if there is a intersection point for the two mobile platforms and who gets there first.

    A comment on Jim’s note about lost devices. A virtual private would indeed provide better security while data is being transported, but it will not protect the data on the device. Remote wipe is key to an enterprise solution and both BlackBerry and iPhone support this feature while connected to BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. BlackBerry Unite! is also an option for consumers who would like to be able to wipe their personal BlackBerry device.

    I had the chance to play with an iPhone just the another night. The first thing I was presented with is the “cool” slider button for power. RIM still uses an old fashioned button on it’s devices, but then I have never found a need to turn my BlackBerry off.

  3. Jose HC Post author

    Jim and CAS – Thanks for your responses. I see several new posts coming out of your comments that would be of interest to our readers – and to me 😉

    – Agreed – iTunes deployed to 20,000 or 30,000 computers? What does this do to support costs? Security? Other policies?

    – Regarding the argument around Mobile Device Management and whether it is best done in an “open” or “closed” fashion. I would agree with CAS in terms of platform specific applications providing more features/functionality. I am more familiar with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server but I am sure that others have similar enterprise ready qualities.

    Regardless of how much RIM, Apple or Microsoft want us to go with only one of them I have a feeling that most enterprise environments will be forced to support at least two platforms… and that is why as soon as someone does a good job of integrating the management and support of multiple devices/platforms they will do well. Will it be one of these three? Probably not Apple… and Microsoft doesn’t understand ‘mobility’ well enough. My bet would go to RIM or to a third party. The awakening of the user through the iPhone has done away with single device deployments…

    Stay tuned over the next few days … for more posts on these topics.

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  5. Joe

    [warning, severe BlackBerry bias]

    I agree with you that the iPhone is not in the Enterprise because it does not have a solution.

    An Enterprise Mobility solution must serve a few core functions, else it will be useless to the Enterprise:

    > Security (end-to-end)
    > Extensibility
    > Network Agnostic
    > Flexibility
    > Command and Control

    Other than being a pretty cool device, I do not see where the iPhone meets any of these requirements (unless I am missing something). In my humble opinion, the fact that the iPhone is only available on AT&T in the states has absolutely nothing to do with why it is not an intelligent choice as an Enterprise Mobility solution. It lacks the core competencies that Enterprise Mobility needs to solve for.

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