When Research In Motion (s rimm) first introduced the BlackBerry about a decade ago, IT departments were typically in charge of all corporate mobile deployments. But as J.P. Finnell writes in a new report at GigaOM Pro, businesses will soon need coherent enterprise mobility strategies in place as the lines between work and play continue to blur, and the demand to connect personal devices to the enterprise network increases.
Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone was a game-changer for mobility in the enterprise: The handset combined a top-notch mobile OS with a slick user interface and consumer-friendly features, and it soon lured business types. Android’s (s goog) momentum has added fuel to the fire by delivering high-powered smartphones in a variety of different models and form factors. IT departments, however, are struggling to handle this explosion of new smartphones.
It’s not just the number of new corporate handsets giving IT staffers headaches. Operating systems are constantly evolving in the mobile world, forcing businesses to embrace new ones without abandoning the older versions. The emergence of downloadable applications offers another challenge to businesses that have traditionally controlled exactly what kind of software is on their employees’ handsets. And the question of who pays for mobile service becomes increasingly complicated when it comes to devices used for both business and pleasure.
So as corporations move beyond IT-driven deployments of few device types toward a more heterogeneous environment, they must look beyond the rigid models of “corporate-liable” and “individual-liable” and toward policies that are more focused on the end-user. Indeed, a new strategy — “data-liable” — is emerging as a way to allow IT to retain ownership and management of the data on the device via employee consent. The policy uses a sandbox — a partitioned area of the handset — which enables the business to manage email and other corporate data with the same degree of control as if the device were company-owned. As Finnell writes, “Company data is always the liability of the enterprise and is not a negotiable policy.”
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