An MBA Perspective : Using an iPhone for Work

Everybody knows that people are using their smartphones all the time today. But should you use it for work too?

The answer seems like it would an obvious yes, right? If employees use their own smartphones, the business can enjoy the benefits of a “mobile workforce” without spending its own money. The issue is that using personal devices for business poses serious issues for a business: security, inventory management, support integrating mobile devices into pre-IT functions and systems and measuring return on investment (ROI).

A large┬áportion of corporate IT resources are dedicated to managing and maintaining┬ádevices. Research in Motion (RIM) produced the BlackBerry, which use to rule the business phone market. The biggest reason why is that it was considered to be the most secure. BlackBerry mobile devices access corporate email and data using proprietary software and networking platform that is company-controlled and therefore protected from anything outside that network. The iPhone doesn’t have that same level of security built in. The other thing is that not everybody uses an iPhone, there’s more Android users out there than iPhone users, so if an organization issues a mobile policy that lets employees work from their personal devices, how will they manage the different operating systems on different devices?

One approach is virtualization, companies can install software that runs on desktops on any device, regardless of the operating system. Employees can then use that software to access their desktop from their smartphone. What’s more, this type of software typically has built-in security features that prohibit saving data on local devices.

In order to successfully adopt a mobile device management system, you’ll need to carefully examine your business processes and decide whether or not mobility is right for your organization. Without an understanding of how mobile devices fit into the long-term plans for the firm, companies end up wasting money on unnecessary devices. One of the biggest issues managers face with mobile is measuring ROI. Workers will swear by their smartphones, and managers understand (they probably have an iPhone, or Android device too), but quantifying how much money will be earned, or saved by implementing a personal mobile device policy is difficult to measure.

Follow Carl De Lucia on Twitter @cdelucia

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