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4 Real Benefits Of iPhone In The Enterprise
By Susan Nunziata
A summer 2009 report from Strategy Analytics shows that enterprises that are using the iPhone are in some cases reaping greater business and work improvements than organizations that are making use of other mobile solutions.

Bucking conventional wisdom, the Strategy Analytics Insight, titled "The iPhone Shows Promise In The Enterprise," also finds that iPhone-friendly enterprises are no more challenged than other mobile enterprises by such issues as developing and enforcing IT policies for mobility and managing mobile devices.

Philippe Winthrop, Director Business Mobility Solutions for Strategy Analytics and author of the report, surveyed 100 enterprises that have either deployed the iPhone in their corporate setting or are allowing employees to bring their individual-liable iPhones into the workplace.

This report contrasts mobility management faced by these organizations with those of  an additional 300 companies surveyed that do not currently allow the iPhone to be used in a corporate setting but have been using mobility in their organizations for at least two years.
Strategy Analytics' research shows that over 30% of the companies surveyed in the United States have employees using the iPhone.

"The great promise of mobility for the enterprise is the ability to drive increased convenience, efficiencies and employee flexibility to ultimately drive corporate competitiveness, revenues and profitability," says Winthrop. "Our research shows that organizations that leverage the iPhone are in fact reaping greater benefits from mobility than organizations that do not have iPhones. This is most likely due to the platform's rich and intuitive user experience which makes applications easier to use, and thus make workflows easier for employees."

% Increase In Business Benefits
Derived from iPhone Vs. Other Mobile Solutions


 Business Benefit  iPhone Users  All Others Mobility Users
Speed of awareness of market information  37%  27%
Ability to increase speed of response to market information  39%  27%
Ability to increase speed of response to enterprise information  42%  36%
Speed of your responsiveness to others  36%  34%
Source: Strategy Analytics, August 10, 2009

% Increase In Work Improvements
Derived From iPhone Versus Other Mobile Solutions
 Work Improvement
 iPhone Users  All other mobility users
 Workflow efficiency  37%  31%
 Workforce flexibility  42%  37%
 Corporate competitiveness  31%  26%
Revenues
 25%
 16%
Source: Strategy Analytics, August 10, 2009

So What Are The Challenges?

  • Nearly two out of three respondents that have employees with iPhones struggle with developing and/or enforcing IT policies for mobility; however, the same percentage of non-iPhone respondents say they are struggling with these issues;
  • Likewise, 65% of organizations that have employees with iPhones say they are challenged by managing mobile devices, consistent with the percentage of non-iPhone enterprises who reported being challenged by this issue;
  • A greater percentage of organizations that have employees with iPhones report challenges in terms of deploying (69% vs. 61%) and updating (69% vs. 63%) mobile applications. More than two thirds of iPhone organizations (69%) report being challenged by deployment versus 61% of non-iPhone enterprises. Likewise, 69% if iPhone organizations are challenged by updating applications, versus 63% of non-iPhone companies. This is likely due to the fact that application deployment and management for the iPhone must (for the most part) be done via the iTunes client.
What Does This Really Mean For The Enterprise?
"In terms of mobility policies, the fact that companies with employees using iPhones face the same challenges in developing a mobility strategy as other organizations should not be considered a bright spot for the iPhone community," says Winthrop.  "The fact that two in three organizations still struggle to develop mobility policies and a mobility strategy speaks to the challenges that all organizations face with mobile solutions."

Prior Strategy Analytics research shows that organizations with well defined mobility policies and procedures are able to reap far greater benefits from their mobility investments as compared to companies with no defined policies and procedures.

"Security is also a key consideration within a mobility strategy," notes Winthrop. "Even with the recent release of iPhone OS 3.0, which provides device encryption (another key need for securing corporate data on a mobile device), the iPhone remains vastly inferior to other platforms in terms of its enterprise readiness. The encryption used has already been shown to be easily 'crackable.'  Additionally, the increased adoption of devices will ultimately pose a serious challenge for enterprises that recognize iTunes does not satisfy the need to centrally manage the mobile devices, applications and data that are touching their mission critical back-end systems (including email)."

According to Winthrop, while there are vendors -- including MobileIron, Sybase, Trust Digital and Zenprise -- that can provide baseline management of the iPhone via the ActiveSync protocol, true device management will only be possible when Apple makes the iPhone OS capable of supporting background processes and applications. 

"Mobility management solutions that leverage a small application that runs on the device as a background process are a must for scalable and manageable deployments and management of mobile devices and applications," says Winthrop. "Only when the iPhone is capable of supporting background applications (and there are no signs of Apple heading in that direction) will the device move from being a very valuable business tool, to a truly enterprise ready platform. Until then, organizations will not be able to reap the benefits of broad, scalable management of the device which can only hold back the benefits that can be achieved with the device and the further adoption of the device in the enterprise."

Philippe Winthrop is Director Business Mobility Solutions for Strategy Analytics. Visit his blog at Enterprise Mobility Matters.

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