Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Employee Owned Mobile Devices At Work

The enterprise use of employee-owned mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android-OS phones is still in its infancy. The majority of these technical wonders are still bought by end consumers and are used for a broad range of personal activities. My favorite use of the iPad is as a musical instrument (try the Korg iMS-20 app - it's unbelievable).

Wouldn't it be great if you could use these little helpers to do some of your office work? Some of the obvious applications are emails, calendars, task management, managing presentations and spreadsheets. But even these apps are in most companies not allowed to access the intranet with employee-owned devices. I'm sure there are quit a view IT departments who are scared of this thought: "so you are telling me you want to connect your jail-broken Angry Birds toy to my enterprise server? @-*3%@$ ???"

All major mobile OS vendors (Apple, RIM, Google, ...) invested heavily in making their devices fit for the enterprise. Blackberry was certainly the standard in the last years, but the others are catching up fast. Apple for instance made a big step forward with iOS 4 and now 4.2: remote device configuration, data protection, SSL VPN, advanced Exchange support, Mobile Device Management (lock, wipe, compliance policies, deliver apps, ...).

These features allow IT departments to create a dedicated area on employee-owned devices that they can control to deliver Enterprise Apps and add company email accounts to the standard email client. They have many security features which they would expect from a company owned device. Even better: there are solutions out there that handle these features across multiple platforms which allow defining standards ones and deploy them on multiple types of devices.

Bottom Line: It is time for IT Departments to create a mobile enterprise strategy and enable employees to use their own mobile device to access company data. The technology is there today (I talk about affordable standard software not custom written apps) and the value for employees and employers is significant.