Are Android smartphones finally poised to conquer the enterprise?

Are Android smartphones finally poised to conquer the enterprise?

Summary: Android has long ruled the consumer smartphone market – but can it make an impact on the business market too?

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Is Android poised to take over the enterprise?

Android devices dominate the consumer smartphone market, but the OS is still playing catch-up in the enterprise.

While Android-powered mobiles — in all their variations — account for around two-thirds of all smartphones bought by consumers, in the enterprise the iPhone is still the smartphone of choice.

Part of the reason behind this split is that consumers often want to buy low-to-midrange devices — a segment that Android caters to well, and iOS doesn't cater to at all — whereas the enterprise tends to buy high-end devices. This is coupled with organisations' concerns about Android app security.

But with the rise of the trend for bring your own device (BYOD) it's workers, not CIOs, making the decisions about what handsets to use — which means that Android usage in business is likely to rise.

According to recent research from IDC, while the iPhone is the top company-owned smartphone, Android devices used in companies are most likely to be bought to work by staff. IDC calculated that during 2012, 87.7 million Android devices would be shipped to businesses and 15.1 million to individuals who would take their devices to work.

A real contender

And when asked 'Are Android smartphones a real option for business users?' the ZDNet-TechRepublic CIO Jury responded yes with a margin of 10 to two, suggesting that as long as a few IT department caveats are dealt with, Android could be a real rival to iOS and BlackBerry devices in the enterprise.

Thanks to BYOD, the increased use of Android devices in the enterprise is inevitable, according to Kevin Leypoldt, IS director at Structural Integrity Associates. "It's already a real option. As the Android operating system continues to evolve as a solid contender in the mobile space, it's only going to become more popular and used in business because of its growing popularity from an end-user perspective," he said.

"Current experience is proving that for IT business needs Android devices are a strong choice" — Michael Woodford, USANA Health Sciences

And Michael Woodford, executive director of IT technical services USANA Health Sciences, said his organisation's experience of Android in the workplace has been "very positive".

"The majority of our Android users only use their devices for email, calendaring, online reporting. However, we have had the best success with our technical staff using Android devices for network management, systems control and monitoring, and remote access."

He added: "It would be beneficial to reduce the number of versions of Android and to have some better quality control for apps. However, current experience is proving that for IT business needs Android devices are a strong choice."

Security

Many of the CIOs polled said Android devices are suitable for enterprise usage so long as security and management issues are tackled.

Jerry Justice, IT director with SS&G Financial Services, said Android is now enterprise ready "if you take an appropriate security approach, and you want to leverage BYOD".

Alan Bawden, commercial director at The JM Group, said Android devices are an option "as long as you have a strong mobile device management system in place to control the security on the phones with particular focus on the applications that can run on the phone and what data they can access".

But Delano Gordon, CIO at Roofing Supply Group, said from a hardware point of view the durability of the devices "is still in question" and added: "At some point the enterprise is going to have to resolve the BYOD debate with investment and security. Until then, it’s an uphill battle in the enterprise."

Mike Roberts, IT director at The London Clinic, added Android is suitable for business use provided there are effective apps covering business functionality and security.

"Android phones are just more complex to use and if you aren't a technically savvy person, then you're out of luck" — Matthew Metcalfe, Northwest Exterminating

However, not all tech leaders on the panel are convinced the security problem has been cracked: Shaun Beighle, CIO at the International Republican Institute, said "the security, or lack thereof, is simply too much of an issue to overlook".

And Matthew Metcalfe, director of information systems at Northwest Exterminating, said that Android, compared to Apple, has some better technical hooks for the enterprise — but the difficulty of use compared to Apple iOS devices prevents its wider adoption.

"Our user base consists of both devices, and the Androids leverage the smartphone capabilities less than the iOS devices. In other words, they are used more as traditional phones. They are just more complex to use and if you aren't a technically savvy person, then you're out of luck. Windows [Phone] 8 devices have an open window to grab market share."

This week's CIO Jury was:

  • Jerry Justice, IT director, SS&G Financial Services
  • Delano Gordon, CIO, Roofing Supply Group
  • Kelly Bodway VP of IT, Universal Lighting Technologies
  • Andrew Clarke, group IT director, Arcadia
  • Alan Bawden, commercial director, The JM Group
  • Richard Storey, head of IT, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
  • Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Models
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Michael Woodford, executive director of IT technical services, USANA Health Sciences
  • John Gracyalny, VP of IT, SafeAmerica Credit Union
  • Shaun Beighle, CIO, the International Republican Institute
  • Kevin Leypoldt, IS director, Structural Integrity Associates

Want to be part of the CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT decision-makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should, then get in contact. Either click the Contact link below or email me, steve dot ranger at techrepublic dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

Topics: Security, Android, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

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99 comments
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  • With a truck load of malware? Probably not

    Android is about to have more malware than apps at its current pace, and you can be sure enterprise admins are not amused by a system like that.
    LBiege
    • Well the Enterprise has to cope with Windows

      The most infested OS in the history of computing.
      Alan Smithie
      • Sorry never a fan of the 'well everyone else is rubbish too' argument.

        Android has a good position to enter enterprise; it's free and hardware is cheap.

        However it is far too open; it needs to be easier to lock down and close off. iOS makes it very easy and having apple as a. Central company to call makes it easier.

        iOS shouldn't stay ahead in enterprise; it's too expensive for what you get. I'd say it's more likely that one of the OEM's targets enterprise with a heavily customised version of android for the task. But no, as it is it isn't ready.

        Not sure if it can be de-goggled under it's release terms though...
        MarknWill
        • Re: Sorry never a fan of the 'well everyone else is rubbish too' argument

          Question of priorities, though, isn't it? Tackle the worst source of your current woes before worrying about future hypothetical ones.
          ldo17
        • Android is quite lockable

          For example, SE Android from the NSA. More secure than anything else on any smartphone, though of course, you have to be willing to run the custom "ROM", and it has to be centrally managed. The Army is also using Android pretty seriously, running their own spin on secured Android.
          Hazydave
          • Precisely

            It isn't ready yet. It requires forking into an enterprise level distro. Companies are not going to do this themselves.

            As I said however, it is very much possible; it is just a Linux distro at heart, if a tweaked enterprise version were released I have no doubt it'd do very well.

            But no stock android isn't up to the job.
            MarknWill
          • Re: Companies are not going to do this themselves.

            I never understood this argument. You're talking about large corporations, of the sort commonly described as "the enterprise". They're big enough to have their own IT departments, full of experts on all kinds of development methodologies, skilled enough to have built their own internal IT systems which are being used for all kinds of mission-critical functions. Yet you tell me they're incapable of maintaining a few patches on a code base that is already being handed to them in its entirety on a plate? When groups of outside volunteers like the CyanogenMod project are capable of maintaining custom features that work on a hundred different Android devices, old and new, these in-house IT experts are running away like timid schoolgirls?
            ldo17
        • Apple managed device vs IT department managed

          If you leave it up to Apple to manage the devices, you will get caught out.
          Look at the latest screwup with the iOS6.1 update that messed with Exchange servers.
          You had to rely on Apple to fix it, or BAN the devices. That's a huge penalty for the sake of ease.
          With Android, at least an experienced IT support nerd can fix it or get someone in the know to sort it out. If an enterprise is serious, it will develop and maintain several Android solutions based on a few devices so that users can be assured of quality if they choose one of these SUPPORTED devices. It is not that hard and easily beats having to work around the limitations of iOS devices and answering "how do I do this on my iPhone/iPad" all the fricken time!
          warboat
      • Android has the most malware in history

        Actually Android already has more malware in 2 years than windows managed in ~ 15 years!

        That's what comes when a highly insecure platform like Linux becomes popular...

        As to Android 'in the enterprise' - lol - not in a million years. That's a 2 horse race between a dying Blackberry and a rapidly climbing Windows Phone....
        daltto
        • daltto ms fanboy

          both speak of android virus, was never presented to him
          virus for windows is very easy to see
          Henrique Dourado
          • English

            Please learn how to speak English before posting...
            ingramator
          • Civility and manners!

            You should learn some civility and manners before posting!

            Trolls like you are bad enough.
            People with an interest in the subject matter have to wade through your ordure to read sensible constructive comments.

            You should know better.
            gvnmcknz
        • Windows Phone

          Lost market share in 2012, across all versions. If that's climbing, they must be in a pretty deep well.
          Hazydave
      • The U.S. Army chooses Android for their standard-issue smartphone

        Since December, the U.S. Army has been officially developing a standard-issue smartphone for their soldiers. But there has been much debate about what operating system it would use, and whether it was really a practical tool to implement. The smartphone, as it does for consumers, would facilitate communication, navigation, translation, and more in the field. And it seems the Army has settled on Android for their OS of choice.

        Here is a link to the story: http://www.phonearena.com/news/The-U.S.-Army-chooses-Android-for-their-standard-issue-smartphone_id18344
        Tim Jordan
    • Who has seen this unicorn?

      What malware have you or anyone else actually seen on an Android device? MDM provisioning is finally up to par to manage these devices, both iOS and Android, and if you want to encrypt and lock down an Android device then do so. As far as the one roofing CEO talking about durability, the US military is giving harden Android phones out now, how much durable do you want them to be.

      The one thing that I do agree with is that iOS is easier to use. This is why you suggest them to your technical illiterate family members. Working in IT I can tell you that there are some very non-tech employees out there.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • Millions and millions of Android users - that's who

        With 15,000 new malware apps and malicious exploits beng discovered each quarter affecting millions of Android users and increasing according to Kaspersky, the infestation is oly getting worse. McAfee reports that close to 100% of all new mobile malware has been targeting Android in the last few quarters with zero attacking iOS.

        And the Google Play store is no safe haven either with malware such as the recent Cleaner hybrid Trojan discovered by Kaspersky which powns Android phones as well as using them as a launching platform to inject malware into user's Windows PCs.
        Melciz
        • Where are the hard facts?

          I keep seeing this accusation of Android as a malware nightmare by Windows/Apple fans all over the forums but have yet to see a story about somebody having a serious problem with an infected phone. What are these Trojan horse apps? Somebody must have more specific information--as an Android user, I really want to know. Right now it just sounds like a lot of hype by rivals and security companies that want to promote their goods. No doubt there has been temporary installations of annoying advertising, easily uninstalled, but credit card info stole? Viruses being sent to contacts? Show us the evidence this has happened due to malware and not careless use of a phone.
          cac1031
          • I second that

            Please show how these 15k malicious apps have affected android users. All we hear is how many have been found and how they can all explode our handsets. Not once, if memory serves correctly, have I seen a story about how x thousand android users were affected. There's never stories about what damage was done, just FUD about what could be done. As I said in another thread, everyday users of android don't care and personal experience only, I have not found one person that has been affected by any of these thousands of malicious apps.
            In fact, all we ever hear is anti-virus companies shouting about how many they've found, of course we'll be protected if we buy their product, along with the isheep and softies that think they can sink android by talking about "Android is about to have more malware than apps at its current pace". It's lies people, you know it and we know it.
            Little Old Man
          • Actually it's over 51,000 as of the third quarter

            I would imagine that it's even higher now as the trend line in the article I posted from the security firm looks exponential.

            http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/05/android-malware-surges-despite-googles-efforts-to-bounce-dodgy-apps-off-its-platform-f-secure-ids-51447-unique-samples-in-q3/
            Les Morton
          • Here's a start for you

            http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Android-Malware-Security-Google-Apps,news-16267.html

            Now that you've got a start, perhaps you can learn to use Google and Bing to continue with a little research.
            JScottA44