They're Heeeere: Consumer Devices Are Redefining Enterprise Mobility

By  Susan Nunziata — February 16, 2009

In the final installment of our four-part series, we polled members of the Mobile Enterprise Editorial Advisory Board -- which is made up of enterprise executives, industry analysts and consultants -- to get their views on how the proliferation of consumer devices in the workplace is effecting enterprise I.T.
Check out the other installments in this series:

Gadgets To Watch For

Ben Halpert

Information Security Researcher & Practitioner
Enterprise I.T. organizations will continue to feel pressure from employees who want to utilize personal assets to perform business functions. The Apple iPhone is one of the best examples in this space from 2008.  For 2009, look for more employees wanting to use Apple laptops and varied suppliers' netbooks within the business environment. This could be in the form of a replacement for a business-provided machine, or to be used for personal reasons while on the job.

Costs & Economies Of Scale

Kevin Baradet
S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

I see an increase in the costs associated with the reliability and maintainability of consumerized devices. As the major device manufacturers get into a market, they will tend to drive the device cost down by economies of scale, but also by removing enterprise features such as security and manageability that are expensive to develop, maintain and support. This often causes the cost of support to be shifted to the enterprise, in terms of higher labor costs to secure and maintain the consumerized devices.
Purchasing control is also an issue. As the cost of device falls below the internal thresholds for I.T. and/or corporate purchasing involvement, individual users often purchase devices that appeal to them personally. This causes problems for I.T. to efficiently scale and support devices that meet the needs of the larger enterprise.

Brenda Lewis
Transactions Marketing

I.T. officers are going to have a BIG stick to wield to prevent the proliferation of iPhones, Gphones and other less secure consumer devices in the enterprise: cost.
They may be forced to support the CEO's iPhone, but the cost of maintaining and supporting multiple devices throughout the enterprise will slow proliferation and will lead to increasing central control (versus business unit-control) over security, device selection and applications.
Text messages are a particular problem for I.T. officers:  since there is no audit trail they are a violation of Sarbanes-Oxley provisions to capture business communications. 
The good news is that the terrific improvements in both user interface and ease of navigation introduced by iPhone and its imitators is already moving into enterprise-class devices like the BlackBerry.

Raising The Bar On Enterprise I.T.

Brendan O'Malley
Tasty Baking Company

Consumerization will keep raising the bar on the services and quality of services that enterprise I.T. is asked to provide.  Enterprise I.T. needs to stay nimble and make good choices and not be afraid to keep reinventing and upgrading its services in order to keep up with the demands of the business.

If You Can't Beat 'Em . . .

Craig Settles

This is going to be like the war on spam. Every day will be a continuing battle for security and sanity as new devices hit the market and non-business apps hit the Internet. The more that employee stress and work hours increase with the worsening economy, the less success I.T will have segregating business and personal use.
The best they can hope for is to keep data on the networks reasonably secure and pray for a universal kill switch.

Andrew M. Seybold
Andrew Seybold, Inc.

This is an issue which should be of grave concern to I.T. professionals. As phones such as the iPhone find their way into the market, and as people who work for companies decide to purchase their own devices (which is happening more and more), this is going to become more of a problem.
The good news here is that companies such as BlackBerry parent RIM are beginning to provide their own "answers" to the iPhone in the form of the Storm and other devices.
However, gone are the days when I.T. can dictate the type of phone or device which is used by the employees, many of them are making their own decisions. The other aspect of this is the forthcoming surge of netbooks which include wireless. These products could actually help I.T. professionals provide more computing power for less money per employee.

Stop Worrying & Learn To Love 'Em

Gene Signorini
VP Enterprise Applications & Mobile Solutions
Yankee Group

Enterprises will continue their futile struggle to control the flow of consumer mobile technologies among their employees.  
The most advanced, capable devices in the market are being designed and targeted for the mass market.  The good news is that, while these devices have all the consumer bells-and-whistles (e.g. multimedia), they also have increasingly advanced capabilities that businesses can tap into as well (better browsing capabilities, more nimble operating systems, support for a wide variety of messaging applications, greater processesor power).  
Apple's iPhone, Google's G1, Palm's Pre, and RIM's BlackBerry Storm are all devices aimed at the broad consumer market which also hit some targets for many mobile professionals.  To turn Stanley Kubrick's phrase, enterprises should learn to stop worrying and love consumerization when it comes to mobility.

Don't Overlook Security

Jasyn Voshell
Supervisor I.T. Audit

Security controls around these types of devices is one of the larger issues that will need to be overcome; not to mention the support for the end clients. You may see an increase in compliance checks across the organization and companies finding ways to integrate the best of the consumer products into enterprise I.T.

Managed Mobility Is The Key

Philippe Winthrop
Research Director--Global & Wireless Practice
Strategy Analytics

The iPhone, Android, and now the soon to be released Palm's new webOS point to how very consumer friendly designs can be leveraged in enterprise solutions. 
But that's only half the equation.  Organizations are still reticent to mandate only corporate-liable mobility plans  --  especially for knowledge workers. 
This alone will cause an increased consumerization of enterprise mobility.  This consumerization will serve as a catalyst for organization to recognize the need for managed mobility services such as mobile device management, application management, service management, expense management and security -- all in order to be able to get a better grasp on which devices are interacting with back-end data (including email) and the overall expense of mobility.


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