iPhone: 'Not a business tool, but a nice to have'

iPhone: 'Not a business tool, but a nice to have'

Summary: CIOs gathered at SAP's New York dinged Apple's iPhone as an enterprise tool. Vinnie Mirchandani asked SAP's customer panel about iPhone adoption and other key technologies such as cloud computing and software as a service.


CIOs gathered at SAP's New York dinged Apple's iPhone as an enterprise tool. 

Vinnie Mirchandani asked SAP's customer panel about iPhone adoption and other key technologies such as cloud computing and software as a service. The iPhone comments were the most interesting. The takeaway: Research in Motion's BlackBerry juggernaut still rules. 

Jennifer Allerton, CIO of pharma giant Roche, said there are enterprise users that have iPhones. And as a result, Roche has connected its corporate email system to the iPhone. The problem: Roche's email intensive culture can't type fast enough on the iPhone.  She said:

"We have email on iPhone, but it has a soft keypad and we are an email intensive culture. We can't get good enough on it. iPhone is not a business tool, but a nice to have. The backbone is the BlackBerry."

Colgate Palmolive global IT head Ed Toben agreed. "We're the same way with the iPhone," he said.

IBM vice president of enterprise business transformation Jeannette Horan took the diplomatic route, noting that "we have one of everything."

SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker duly noted that the company's CRM application is available on the BlackBerry and iPhone. However, demand for SAP CRM on the BlackBerry is much stronger than for the iPhone. And don't expect any long emails from Apotheker on an iPhone. "I'm totally unable to complete a sentence on the iPhone," said Apotheker. "Perhaps I'm clumsy."

Also see: Is SAP really done with ’scary upgrades’ and ’sleepless night’ projects?

Topics: SAP, Collaboration, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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  • Was this article really necessary?

    Of course some are going to have trouble typing on an iPhone or any other mobile device out there. If you are hoping to get 60 WPM on a phone then you are either that damn good or crazy. Of course you are going to type slower on Phone such as an iPhone or other QWERTY capable phone. Some devices will work better for some than others. It doesn't mean the device is totally unfit for the "business" world. I like my iPhone and use it for work. It has a nice clean interface for email and it took some getting used to but I can send email fairly well. The only thing I wish they would do is allow the screen to flip but for the time being I got the easywriter app for that.
    • Same here

      The learning curve is different between a physical keyboard and iPhone's. It's harder to start, but it's possible to be faster with the iPhone, mainly due to its superb guessing at what you meant to type based on key proximity. I downloaded a "practice" app and what able to achieve 37 words a minute.
      • Pretty impressive

        I didn't even think to mention the spell check/predictive text. What is that apps name that you used to practice. I can type near over 80 WPM on a regular keyboard, I'd be interested on what I can do on a phone with a little practice.
    • Yes, it was in orer to destroy the myth that

      iPhone is enterprise ready. Once it can "cut and paste" then maybe it'll get closer. The blackberry storm will have the same issue respect to keyboard usage. Hard keys are the only way unless you have dainty little fingers.
      • What works for some may not work for others.

        That is why we have choices. If what you were saying was true then all these touch screen phones wouldn't be made. Yes maybe the iPhone is missing a few features but some competitiors like the Storm are missing useful features as well. Take WiFi for instance. Soon I will be able to integrate my iPhone into my business VOIP system when the application is ready. That means one phone internal and on the road. So each phone has its selling points. Oh and just for reference I type fine with my thumbs in the iPhone. It does a good job of detecting where the finger/thumb is actually touching on the screen so even if it overlaps a little it seems to get the letter I am after. Of course like I said in my earlier post I have an app that flips the screen for when I type an email.
      • It's not "the only way" ...

        To successfully type quickly on the iPhone, you need to change your mindset. People get caught up because they think they have to type every letter correctly in a row. This is not true with the iPhone. It does a FANTASTIC job of predictive text and guessing what you meant to type. Predictive text is not just "nice" and "helpful" feature, it's a requirement.

        In other words, the way to type fast is to let the device worry about the accuracy.

        Pet peeve: a myth is not something that is false that most people believe is true. A myth is somthing that most people know is false, but allows the "participant" to experience some greater truth. Like Santa Claus.
        • Are you sure about that definition?

          dictionary.com says:

          an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution

          There's a few others, but I think you are referring to this one.
          • Not that one...

            Closer to this one:

            "a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature."

            Myths are clearly literally false, but they speak to a higher truth. Take the Genesis myth - the first human (Adam) wasn't created by god breathing onto a lump of dust. He or she was in reality born to some nearly-human hominid. However, the myth speaks to a higher truth that we humans are part of the natural order of the world. It also shows that we and the world are made essentially of the same stuff, however, there is a spark of difference between man and dust and that difference is life.

            You can believe it without thinking it's true.
          • The other definition is also valid

            I understand that's it a pet peeve for you, but it is valid.
    • "The point..."

      --sigh--The point of the story wasn't whether the iPhone is or isn't enterprise-ready, it was about the "real world" experiences of the round-table participants and the actual evidence they've seen in their organizations. You can go on and on and on about your abilities to master the iPhone and how unbelievably wonderful it is but you are but a single data-point among hundreds if not thousands.

      Of course, you may believe that the CIO of Roche and the other senior IT executives are lying but that wasn't what you said...
      • Well maybe...

        ...they shouldn't have been so cut and dry in the headline then and said that the iPhone is NOT a business tool. They are basically calling it a toy. Yeah it is a good Music/Video player and has lots of fun games available to it, but there are plenty of business applications and more are being developed all the time. On my iPhone I have applications/tools for RDP, Telnet, SSH, Exchange, and VPN to name a few. I can configure switches, RDP to servers, access management web interfaces all from my phone. Soon I am told I can use it as a WiFi phone on my VOIP network when the app is released and when I am done working I can resume my game and get back into my playlist without a hitch. There may be utilies like this for Blackberry as well but I know two co-workers that currently have and have used Blackberrys for years and they said there is nothing like that for their setup, well not as easy and user friendly anyway. One currently has the Storm and the other has the Bold. But the point is that choose the best setup for you and you cannot come out and say that the iPhone is completely NOT ready for business. It could use improvement in some areas but having used it to do my "business" work effectively I would say it is on par with the other offerings out there.
  • RE: iPhone:

    If you ask me, a lot of doing business has to do with making an impression. In older days, all you had to do was make a quick cell phone call on your Motorola 3Watts "briefcase" and suits stuck with landlines instantly knew that you meant business, that you were a pro with the right tools.

    The iPhone might not be the best device for many business tasks, but there's something it still manages to do very well corporate wise and that's wowing customers and co-workers alike. And in many businesses, you just can't put a price tag on that :)
  • RE: iPhone:

    I have a Blackberry 7100. It does not have a full qwerty keyboard. Typing on it is extremely painful and slow. Almost all of the keys have at least 2 letters on them. This results in pressing the key twice just to get the letter I want. Then if it don't understand what I'm typing, it brings up that awful util that makes me use the scroll wheel to pick what I want, then click the wheel to select it which sometimes scrolls off what I want because the scroll wheel is awkward.
    I'm lucky to get 5 words a minute on it.
  • RE: iPhone:

    I was told by an IT guy back in 1998, not kidding, that GUIs are for kids. That said, I wouldn't go by what IT people say- especially upper managmement. They toe line the line and that's it.
    • Hey..

      I am IT and tend to think I keep an open mind about things. I try to test everything out first hand before forming my opinion. I was never that IT guy that said to people "a 4GB Hard Drive is all you will ever need" or anything like that.
  • iPhone not a business tool?

    Apple has been focused on solidifying it's consumer market the past 18 months. Now, as more of these consumers walk into their offices with iPhone's wanting to use it for business, IT is being confronted with supporting a new device. They don't like supporting new devices. It increases support costs and complexity. Over time, as more tools and more enterprise applications available, it will become a necessity. Apple also needs to listen and over time, they will address iPhone's enterprise shortcomings. For one, I believe the horizontal keyboard in all applications and the addition of cut and paste would mitigate a good percentage of the problems people are having with the keyboard. While iPhone may not supplant Blackberry's, it will become a viable alternative.

  • Seriously?

    first off typing with thumbs is just plain ignorant. So for anyone complaining about the fact that they cant type 80wpm, thats what full keyboards are for, and for using on laptops. Its a convience even on iphones, BB, and winmobile phones. So for any rational person to say i cant type as effectively on my iphone as i can on a "real" kybrd, your being irrational.

    A real kybrd is at least, AT LEAST, 10inches across, and iphone is what 2 and a few inches across, and people complain their fingers are too fat for the iphone, funny i look at both the 8830 i have here infront of me and the iphone has bigger (soft) keys, so i call (proverbial) BS.
    • Sorry that I am ignorant

      When I tilt my phone horizontal to type an email I think I do relatively well with my thumbs. Grip it on each side and type away. Maybe you like to hold it with one hand and hunt and peck with the other but thats your way. Who cares as long as the task gets done. Its not a full keyboard like a computer so you cannot put your fingers on the ASDF JKL; keys like you are taught in typing class. Of course that could have changed by now since I took keyboarding over 17 years ago. So don't call me or anyone else ignorant for how they choose to type on their mobile phone/PDA.
      • I don't think he did call you or anyone "ignorant"

        Hey everyone has their thing. I just wonder if people give the virtual
        keyboard as much time as it took them to learn on a regular phone
        keypad. Habits are time consuming too learn and hard to unlearn.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • He said..

          Typing with your thumbs is just plain ignorant. In an earlier post I commented how I can use my thumbs to type on the iPhone and still be accurate. Thought maybe he was directing that at me. If he wasn't then I apologize, but I stand by my comment how a person types is their business especially on a small PDA type keyboard