Supporting Apple, BlackBerry and Mobile Choice

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — September 30, 2013

At Kimberly-Clark, whose iconic brands include Kleenex, Scott and Huggies, the mobile device make up of this corporate-issued environment is 96% iOS and 4% BlackBerry . One might wonder, why address such a small group of internal customers when it comes to BB?  “We give our employees a choice,” said Don King, Mobile Solutions Engineer at Kimberly-Clark in an interview with Mobile Enterprise.  

Moving away from BlackBerry, might seem like a logical step from the outside, but both business and IT leadership believe that offering options is a critical part of the mobile strategy.

Why these two platforms? “They can be trusted,” King pointed out. The company has not embraced other devices because of the security question. Windows Phone 8, King said, is not compatible with certificates and the risk of Android is still untold.

Granted, the majority of Kimberly-Clark employees who use BlackBerry are outside of the U.S. in places like Argentina where they don’t sell Apple, and Canada, where there is homeland patronage. King also pointed out that the diehard BB supporters are the ones who still want the keyboard.

BYOD - Even More Choice 
Kimberly-Clark’s approach to BYOD offers additional alternatives for those who want to use any personal device. It is, however, limited based on business and security requirements.  

Employees who choose personal devices are allowed to access email, which is enabled through Active Sync, but there is no access to apps and the device cost is not subsidized. These polices are clearly communicated and spelled out in the End-User Agreement that employees must sign before the device is deployed.

With tablets, however, Kimberly-Clark, using MobileIron as its MDM solution, has opened up use to personal iPads — providing access to the key apps, processes and data needed to do the job.  “These devices are used by executives, the sales and field teams — those who don’t want to carry around their laptop,” said King. 

BES 10 Upgrade?
Whether enabling a handful of workers means a full upgrade to BES 10 remains to be seen (as does the future of BlackBerry itself). King said that the platform is still in the development state to see how it works.  

Kimberly-Clark has BB 5 in its environment and he calls that a “known commodity,”  but with BES 10 there are a lot of changes—from the subscription model and email functionality, to the new “workspace” and how different apps work in certain areas, etc.

One example of a challenge is with the Enterprise IM functionality.  Despite the BlackBerry promoting this as a huge selling point of BB10, King says they can’t get it to work correctly.

“We have had a ticket open with BlackBerry for 2 months now,” he explained. “If you have always been a BlackBerry shop, it’s probably not a problem, but if you are Kimberly-Clark, with the majority of employees on iOS, with an MDM solution—implementing a BES 10 server even for testing is complex. There are lots of different approvals that you have to go through internally because of the two different licensing models [BB5 vs BB10]. And, simply put, from a technical perspective, different ports have to be opened up.  If BlackBerry would open up the APIs to MobileIron , we could use their device and eliminate their server. Yes, you can use Active Sync, but that does not enable the business side of the BB10 devices.”

This challenge is a common complaint associated with BlackBerry 10, and there’s no doubt anymore that the requirement for organizations to implement  the BES 10 platform in order to realize full functionality and total device support has hindered BlackBerry’s progress significantly in the enterprise. King noted, “Most companies just can’t just drop everything that has taken place in the last several years and move to BlackBerry.”

Apple of the Enterprise
Apple might be the majority in a majority of enterprises, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to support either.  With iOS7, here, the way things look and operate on the front end are different, but, of course, it’s the changes on the inside that King is dealing with. “Remediating apps to accommodate iOS7 is a big change if you are an organization that uses a lot of in-house or custom apps. iOS7 also changes the way the OnDemand VPN works.”

What’s most challenging when it comes to Apple is the unknown. Just like the consumer, who was greatly anticipating iOS7, the enterprise only knows what is publically offered by Apple.  For example, King said, “We know that the fingerprinting technology on the 5s will unlock your phone and allow you to make iTunes purchases.  We have not heard if Apple is going to enable that functionality for custom apps.”

Another question, little realized by the end-user, the new activation lock in iOS7 may pose a potential problem for the enterprise.  An employee must sign in to iCloud and turn on Find My iPhone with an Apple  ID. That ID is then locked to that phone. 

“That’s great for personal,” said King, “But from an enterprise standpoint, when you get an iPhone  back, you would essentially have  brick. You can’t redeploy because you don’t have the Apple ID and password.” Kimberly-Clark has had iOS7 in Beta and certain things can be tested, but the full documentation wasn’t available until the release last week.

So, with the rapid changes in mobility, whether in the devices, platforms or solutions, the typical struggle of trying to—not just keep up—but plan ahead is still inevitable. Enterprises like Kimberly-Clark realize the way to mobile success is to balance the challenges with, not just the requirements of  business, but the needs of the employee.
 

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