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June 14, 2010
In the geek world of any corporate environment you have this constant struggle between trying to give what your staff desire versus the business needs of your organization. This struggle has become increasingly complex in the mobile device realm as Apple has developed some extremely attractive gizmos that nearly every consumer wants to have. Using the iPhone as an example, it is a compelling product for quickly and easily accessing business information while also being a fantastic vehicle for music, videos and games – er, I mean “apps”. So, why doesn’t every tech department dole out iPhone devices? There are a few struggles:
Many companies have sworn off iPhone devices as a result of these complications, but that is probably not the ideal approach. Current and future employees will judge your firm and your I.T. department by how you can manage their wishes with the needs of the company. To the credit of Apple, they have made future versions of the iPhone and the OS for the devices more secure and with business customers in mind even though their focus is on consumers. Microsoft’s Exchange application allows for remote disconnection to the corporate server, so that is also a plus. You can also limit access to Citrix or Terminal Services to keep secure connections to your office on the device.
The carrier dependency issue is a tougher nut to crack, though even there simply thinking outside the box is a great start. For example, you could consider the concept of issuing a Verizon MiFi device and parking / forwarding a cell phone number to a Skype account on an iPod Touch. This is a fairly complicated way to offer connectivity and dependent on a multi-tasking iPod Touch to be released later in the year, but it is an option that breaks the carrier dependency and offers some other benefits.
No matter how you approach the problems we have found it valuable to share the struggles with staff and let them know the options you are considering that might someday result in a solution. Whatever the obstacles are to any idea, simply sharing that the technical crew understands the goal and are trying to find a solution that addresses both the business and personal needs is something that everyone can understand and appreciate.