Is the iPhone Enterprise Ready?

Is the iPhone Enterprise Ready?

Summary: I listened to a Burton Group briefing on whether or not the iPhone is enterprise ready. The briefing started with a slide show that concluded "that while the iPhone will fundamentally influence future smart phones, it isn't enterprise ready.

TOPICS: iPhone, Mobility

I listened to a Burton Group briefing on whether or not the iPhone is enterprise ready. The briefing started with a slide show that concluded "that while the iPhone will fundamentally influence future smart phones, it isn't enterprise ready."

Bob Blakley, however, had a dissenting opinion that I think makes a lot of sense. There are several reasons for saying the iPhone isn't enterprise-ready: no provision for encrypting resident data, no way to load apps, and no provision for resident data. While you can certainly make a case that encrypting data on the device (even contacts) is necessary for many enterprises, the model that keeps apps and data on the Web--removing the need for these to be remotely managed--is exactly the kind of mobile platform enterprises ought to want.

There are applications you can think of--field technicians in areas with poor connectivity who need access to large amounts of data--but those are probably the exception, not the rule. Most road warriors could use Web-based tools with little loss in productivity. I have been amazed at the richness of some of the iPhone applications that I've seen and it's only been a few months.

Creating Web-based applications and data might not work for every enterprise, but if it works for you, then the iPhone, and it's future copycats, might prove to be a superior platform. Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because the iPhone doesn't work like the last generation of mobile devices that it's not right for your organization. Regardless, the iPhone portends changes for the mobile market and it's worth paying attention to what that means for your enterprise.

Topics: iPhone, Mobility

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  • There are already tons of apps available

    Looking at

    You can get a glimpse of the future of the iPhone. It is already more than easy (with a simple application for OS X) to upgrade the iPhone to a nice open platform you can run all your tools on. I make a bet that Apple purposely made it easy to "break" the iPhone (otherwise the hack would have been broken with update 1.0.1 or 1.0.2). So while Apple is stabilizing the iPhone as a platform right now all 3d party developers are working on tons of ports to the iPhone. So no worries.. The iPhone will be enterprise ready soon. This "why not using web apps?" is pathetic and Apple knows it. It was just nice for the mean time till the platform is field tested for more. Using web apps on a phone is simply the worst user experience ever. Why did they not do a google maps app completely web based? Apple would never do such a thing - others should not do that either. Nobody needs that. So check out all the native apps already available and how easy you can install them. This leaves no questions how the future will look. They will not treat the phone like ipods. Phones are a communication device and all about freedom and not little one trick pony music players aka. next generation walkman without tapes;-)
    • Until it can edit MS Office files, no it's not.

      Businesses won't pick it up. At least not until it is much more functional, like other smartphones (if you want to call the iPhone a smartphone, I'd say that's stretching the definition of the word a pretty good bit). Like being able to check your email, a lot of business travelers need the ability to actually work while on the road, not just listen to music and browse the web. Open Source isn't hot enough in the world of business to turn that into an option, though it's getting there it will still be years before any significant portion of the business world considers it as an option.

      Were the phone less locked-in, more customizable, and more geared toward productivity as opposed to leisure, then maybe businesses would adopt it more. Some will anyway, and most will wish they still had their old PDA phones, because they do more of what they need it to do.

      Apple may get it right for business next time around, but I wouldn't look for many to turn in their efficient (and frequently cheaper) Blackberries, Palms, and WM phones for a "smart" phone that doesn't do hardly any of what they need it for in the first place.
      • Why MS Office?

        I disagree with the premise that a smartphone requires the ability to edit MS Office
        files. I don't know any people using business-issued phones for this purpose. I'm
        sure there are some, but I think this is the exception rather than the norm. At best, it
        needs the ability to view office files that have been emailed, and the iPhone does do
        this, except for PowerPoint. I'd still argue that most people using blackberrys, palms,
        etc. are simply using them as communication devices and nothing more. For this, the
        iPhone is just fine.
        • It's not JUST that

          There are lots of things that it doesn't do. Ask someone who uses a Blackberry or a Palm for business if they would use the iPhone. You'll get a laundry list of reasons why they would like to have one for their personal use, but why it wouldn't cut it for business use. You obviously don't use one for these purposes. You'd be surprised how often it is necessary to do some of this work on the road, and how frequently people use the apps on their smartphones because they don't have their laptop, or there is no place to hook it up, etc. In addition, if it can't view PowerPoint files, it has no place in business. Business is alot of presentations, the majority of which are done in office.

          A phone that is so obviously geared toward home users (I cite the fact that the major drawing points of the phone are centered around media, a feature that companies do not utilize because it is expensive and serves no purpose for business) will need to focus more on business applications before they are even considered by the business world.

          I'm not bashing the iPhone. They are awesome. One of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life, I hope Apple sells 10,000,000 of them or more. However, that doesn't make it business ready in any fashion. Sorry.