Is The iPhone Ready For Business Yet?

MacMobilitySecurityWorkspace

The Apple iPhone 3.0 finally addresses security and emerges as a serious business smartphone, even if the BlackBerry is still better for email

Few disagree that, with the iPhone, Apple changed users’ expectations of devices and how they interact with them. Whether the iPhone is fit for business users however, is a topic that provokes debate.

Forrester Research released a report on April 10, Making iPhone Work in the Enterprise: Early Lessons Learned, in which report author Ted Schadler offers the experiences of three companies; Kraft Foods, Oracle and a California-based pharmaceuticals company, that have adopted iPhones.

Each example offers the pros and cons of the experience, but the report, which points out challenges to avoid, as well as advice for properly planning cultural, support and provisioning changes, is in favor of iPhone adoption in companies.

Ultimately, Schadler suggests that the security concerns that previously prevented adoption are no longer valid for some companies, particularly with the iPhone 3.0 addressing many of the remaining concerns, such as forcing a user to sign into a virtual private network (VPN) each time she wants access, instead of automatically signing her in.

The Kraft Experience

The IT staff at Kraft Foods saw iPhone adoption as a way of proving to its work force that it was serious about introducing new tools and technologies to support them, and in April 2008 it joined Apple’s iPhone Enterprise Beta program.

“Every time Apple puts out a new release on the consumer side, they’re very private about it. On the software side they’ve been much more open. The way companies work is, they want to know what’s going on and want to be part of a vetting program,” explained Schadler.

The Enterprise Beta program, Schadler said, is a way of addressing this.

“Enterprises want to see themselves as partners, they want to be involved,” Schadler added. “IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, for example, have become much more open about sharing the next version and when it’s going to happen.”

Apple, he said, began to do this with the iPhone 2.0.

By January, almost half of Kraft Foods’ mobile team were using iPhones, a number Schadler pointed out as significant, given that he would expect mobile adoption at that stage to be between 10 and 20 percent; about 400 new iPhones are being ordered each month.

Among the benefits Kraft is seeing, is a change in the culture of the company to take advantage of new technologies; while challenges included problems with calendar synchronisation.

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