Whose Device Is It Anyway?

By  Susan Nunziata — May 18, 2009

One of the hottest sessions we attended at the BlackBerry Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando revolves around the question of individual-owned versus corporate-owned smartphones in the enterprise.

The discussion -- which featured executives from Ameriprise Financial, Boeing and Kent State University -- delves into the compliance, cost and policy management issues that are facing enterprises as they try to balance the desires of the individual worker with the needs of the IT organization.

"It comes down to the wants and needs of one group versus another," says Ken Boyd, Director Professional Services, Research In Motion. "Individuals want device choice. IT has requirements for SLAs, predictable configurations, network access control, standardization and end point security."

The questions in many organizations come down to: who should support the smartphone? And how does the cost of that support get shared across the enterprise?

"You can't ban consumer devices," notes Boyd. "Attempts by IT to prevent the use of handhelds has largely failed."

Nonetheless, organizations, particularly those in highly regulated industries have to contend with the realities of their marketplace.

"At Boeing, we have a strict policy," says Bill McDermott, Product Service Manager, Design & Integration Specialist. "It is a company-owned device."

Conversely, as of July 1, 2009, Kent State is moving from corporate-liable to a completely personal-liable environment for smartphones, says the university's Benjamin Pijor, Lead IT User Support Analyst, Client Infrastructure.

Ameriprise gives its users their choice of a selection of corporate-sanctioned handsets, notes the company's Monte Rude, Lead Technical Analyst, Messaging & Collaboration Utilities, "and they can put it on our network. But as soon as they do, they run screaming, because we put our corporate policies on it."

Rude says he is subjected to "seven different departments that tell me what I can set in terms of IT policies. We've gone to four different sets of IT policies to manage things to satisfy the community of corporate versus field versus individual users. We're getting more granular [in terms of policies], not less."

At the same time, enterprises need to be prepared for the new employees entering the workforce. Benjamin Pijor of Kent State University warns "Everybody better get ready."
On campus, "every student has a BlackBerry or an iPhone."

Indeed, McDermott describes the iPhone as his "biggest pain. [Employees] can buy it, have it, but they're not gonna get on our network with it, our network is locked down."

At Ameriprise, Rude says he is piloting Sybase iAnywhere's enterprise platform for the iPhone. "We launched Good Mobile Messaging for the squeaky wheels [users who weren't happy with BlackBerrys]" he says. "Of our 33,000 users, only 145 users used the alternate services. So we're thinking about shutting that down altogether and giving everyone BlackBerrys."

At the same time, McDermott recognizes the "whole dynamic change" going on in the way employees communicate, which includes using tools such as Facebook and Twitter for both personal and corporate communications and collaboration.

"We're taking a step back to find a realistic and equitable way to let things go," says McDermott. "But until security and continuity can be addressed, it will be some time before we can incorporate" tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Support This

Support for smartphones -- who handles it, and who pays for it -- is another potential battleground in the enterprise.

At Boeing, IT eats all the costs of smartphone support. "When we started, we were spending around $284 per user per month," says McDermott. "In 2000-2001, we said we'd have no more than 200 users in the whole company. That lasted a few months."

Now, he says, the company's smartphone users grow at a rate of about 60 users per day, and the company spends about $20 per user per month on support.

"The only thing [each department] pays for is the telecommunications costs for the data and voice plans," says McDermott.

Boeing chose AT&T as its carrier for worldwide service and once it did so, McDermott says "support costs dropped, and complaint calls dropped. We're putting a rule out there that says, these are your choices, live with it. We run 20,000 users in five locations around the world with three heads."

At Kent State, Pijor says in the past IT would charge $6.50 per month back to the department that sponsored that employee for support for the BlackBerry access server. As it moves to an individual-liable model, however, all of that is changing.

As the lines between personal and professional usage continue to blur, another challenge is dealing with personal information that's stored on a corporate-owned device when an employee leaves the company.

Rude says Amerprise will wipe employees' personal information from the device when they leave.
McDermott adds, "I'm not letting anyone leave here with information on a device. When you walk out the door, your BlackBerry is toast."

At Kent State, Pijor says he's essentially "starting from scratch" in terms of building policies around device use, but ultimately it falls to the user to handle their personal data. "If you have personal data [stored on a device], it's your responsibility to back that up," he says.

And what of the app stores that are gaining popularity? Do the applications loaded onto smartphones have to be corporate-approved?

Emmanual Nkeze, Mobile Messaging Solutions Architect, Messaging & Collaboration Services of the Shared Services Group at Boeing says, "We have guidelines that define application use for your desktop and the same policy applies to wireless. We don't police it, but anyone caught violating the policy is terminated at once. We do random audits."

At the same time, notes McDermott, "We don't want to stifle the individual business units. We can see the application pathway, can see if it is being abused. We try to keep it open."

At Ameriprise, Rude says there are a handful of approved applications that users can access, including Repligo, Salesforce.com, and Pyxis Mobile.

"It's a terminable offense if you download malware and take the CEO out of commission for a week. That's a career-limiting move."

What's your organization's smartphone policy? Take our quick poll and share your pain points. Results will be revealed in an upcoming edition of our Mobilizer e-newsletter.

UPDATED: The poll is now closed, click here to see the results.



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