CIOs pass their verdict on the 3G iPhone

CIOs of top Australian organisations spilled the beans to on what they think of the 3G iPhone, and whether they will let the device, launched early this morning, into their enterprise.

CIOs of top Australian organisations spilled the beans to on what they think of the 3G iPhone, and whether they will let the device, launched early this morning, into their enterprise.

When the 2G iPhone was launched, it was considered unfit for business, with Gartner giving it the thumbs down in June last year for security and integration reasons. CIOs now have to consider whether the 3G iPhone is good for their business.

Employees rocking up to NAB with their iPhone will be able to use it soon, according to CIO Michelle Tredenick, who said the bank has already started a trial with a small user group.

"NAB has the ability and support model in place to support BYO devices to make it easy for our staff. We have previously done this with Windows Mobile devices and are quite comfortable that the same policy can be applied to the iPhone," she said.

"The device and in particular, the user interface, is interesting technology and in financial services will deliver a new user experience. Acceptance of the device as an online channel may help evolve mobile financial services — we are excited by the opportunity to work with Apple," she continued.

Commonwealth Bank will also be supporting the device, according to the Bank's CIO Michael Harte, although it has not been adopted as standard yet. Before this happens, the security, cost and utility has to be looked into, he said.

Harte professed to a love for the device, and said he expects the innovation to boost industry growth.

Jetstar CIO Stephen Tame, however, didn't believe the iPhone will spread across the enterprise like wildfire: "At this stage, the iPhone is viewed as the new executive perk or toy.

Whilst I can see immediate demand for the phone in the boardroom and executive offices, I do not see its immediate uptake across the business."

Steven Bandrowczak, who manages the IT for 30,000 employees as Nortel's global CIO, put the iPhone in the too unpredictable basket. "[As CIO] you try to be as standard as possible. You try to have as little deviation as possible. What we're seeing with Facebook, with YouTube, the iPhone, and Web Alive and Second Life, they're creating such deviations and unpredictability in the network."

"It'd be up to the user," he said, but warned that user's previous relationship with their BlackBerry might get in the way of a budding romance with the iPhone. "Ultimately we're going to leave it to the end user. By the way, the iPhone might not be right for someone who's used to the BlackBerry," he said.

Aussie Home Loans CIO James O'Donnell said he'd "only had a few requests" to register iPhones on the company network from his 550 contractors and 150 internal staff.

"Aussie is different to most companies. Our sales force is made up of independent contractors who buy what they want and typically that's still BlackBerry-based, rather than iPhone. The reality is that the cost of supporting two different remote phone types doesn't stack up."

As for the Australian Federal government, it will be up to individual agencies whether the iPhone gets an airing or not. "Many different types of telephones are used across government; the business driver is fitness for purpose and product choice is left to agencies. The only limitations arise from security requirements prescribed by the Defence Signals Directorate," an AGIMO spokesperson said.

John Maunder, CIO of South Australia's Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure said it worked the same way in the South Australian government, with the CEO of each department getting to say yea or nay. Although he had not had first-hand experience with the device, his feeling was that it was more a consumer device than a business tool.

George Lymbers, CIO of the Anglican Church, Sydney Diocese was smitten with the device, but was cautious about slotting it directly into his organisation. "From a CIO's perspective I'm really concerned about the security aspects of the unit itself and of the software that backs it up".

"We need to trial this software against our systems, against our network and how we want to be able to interface it. The problem is when you haven't got the tools to do that, you're just speculating on white papers: what's coming out of Apple, what's coming out of Microsoft, what's coming out of IBM; you sort of sit back and say, BlackBerry's here. It's doing this, we have a BlackBerry server sitting here already. Why do we need to move to this iPhone?"

"The organisations involved need to provide free trialware to those companies who are thinking about it," he said. BlackBerry does this, providing a free download of its enterprise server for 15 people.

Pricing was another sticking point. "As it is at the moment, the corporate data plans for the use of iPhone in a collaborative environment are a lot higher than using BlackBerry 3G in a collaborative environment. So iPhone's got a long way to go," he said.

With additional reporting by ZDNet Australia's Liam Tung.


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