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The iPhone, IT, and the Enterprise

Fortune has a nice article on discussions with IT professionals with regards to the iPhone. I especially like this quote from a former CIO:

“What’s interesting about the iPhone is [that] the capability of the device is tremendous,” he added. “We’re looking closely at it. There are a lot of people in IT who play around with it. So I wouldn’t say we have our heads in the sand. And as Apple catches up on the centralized management issues, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we would replace BlackBerrys with iPhones, or add iPhones to the mix.”

I like the quote because it’s realistic. If you’re rolling thousands of these things out, then RIM (s rimm) is ahead of the curve in terms of manageability at this point. But, as he states, Apple (s aapl) is getting there. Someone with this attitude gives me hope that they’ll give the iPhone a fair review, keep an eye on it, and potentially roll it out as improvements dictate. With this kind of attitude, RIM should be worried.

On the other hand, there are still some backwoods folks, the kind RIM loves and hope to keep in its pocket forever:

“Frankly,” added a second, “some management in our organization think it’s more of a toy/gimmick thing because of the way it’s marketed.”

Ah, yes, the old “toy” argument. Just like a Mac was a “toy” 25 years ago. As if being fun, easy to use, and a major leap forward is a curse. Did they never consider that if a device is easy to use people will, you know, use it? Wouldn’t that be a benefit to their company? How short-sighted can a company get?

7 Responses to “The iPhone, IT, and the Enterprise”

  1. I’m an IT professional who works at an airport that is slowly switching. It’s more based on personal preference at the moment, but the iPhone is making its presence known. Centralized management is not that important for us, at least not yet… and I’m not certain it ever will be. We have a BES, but aside from managing the data flow, we don’t physically “manage” anything from it. I believe we pushed out one patch in three years, because it was a timezone issue that crucially needed it.

  2. I just started working at EMC. I brought my personal iPhone to work and within the first week my iPhone was configured to synch with company email, calendar and contacts. iPhones are replacing Blackberrys at a rapid pace at EMC. EMC’s IT department made it easy and secure.

  3. Astrochimp

    “as Apple catches up on the centralized management issues….”

    I wonder if Apple can ever catch up to Microsoft in being business-friendly, because that would require Apple to stop being Apple: highly secretive and mendacious (i.e. lying about security rather than leading with it, as Microsoft has done with Vista and then Windows 7).

    My wife has an iPhone. Here are my experiences with it:
    a) it’s pretty
    b) it obscures perf issues with gratuitous animations
    c) my voice mails never seem to get through
    d) all my wife talks about – and shows off to friends – are the games on it.

    It’s no wonder Apple is perceived as a purveyor of toys.

    Other than infiltrations into the enterprise by a few Apple zealots who buy the Jobs Religion, I don’t see Apple ever making it there.

    • Astrochimp,

      “I wonder if Apple can ever catch up to Microsoft”

      The article is about Apple compared to RIM, not Microsoft.

      The rest of your comments are from the Apple bashers talking points memo.

  4. Although I agree with the first quote I don’t think it’s entirely the fault, in the second quote, of the IT management, that its perceived as a toy. So, I can’t get bent out of shape because it’s not readily apparent it’s not a toy. You can thank Apple for this.

    We all know there’s potential beyond a toy however, it’s fair to say Apple has made their choices in how to market the iPhone and if that means they’re unfortunately overplaying the “hip crowd” card at the expense of the “serious business people” one – that’s Apple’s doing.

    Fortunately, as more non-corporate users saturate the userbase – word gets out. Word is getting out and it’s a very positive word. People will know the iPhone has power and security. IT management will be able to see this even if Apple continues to market to the turtlenecks.

    Now, if Apple decides to start promoting the robust business tools in the AppStore, bringing their own marketing in line with business-minded IT folks (and I believe they’re beginning to) then there’ll be a tipping point even sooner where this “toy” will have found its following AND goes in the hands of corporate IT.

    I think this will happen sooner than later. I’m not worried but RIM better be.

  5. How short sighted can a company get?

    Don’t IT departments depend on things breaking down and constantly being difficult to use and needing specialized attention? I figured that’s how they all stay employed.