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Enterprises Answer The Question: Whose Device Is It Anyway?
By Susan Nunziata
After witnessing a heated debate on the topic of smartphone ownership at a recent industry conference, we invited Mobile Enterprise readers to participate in an informal poll around the question of corporate-owned versus individual-owned smartphones.

While the online poll, conducted May 18-26, 2009, can't be called scientific, it does provide a telling snapshot of how your organizations are dealing with the issue, and the many challenges you're facing.

In fact, the survey responses also bring to light the very real and wide-ranging pain points that surround the use and management of smartphones in the enterprise. These include frustration with short lifecycle of devices, unrealistic user expectations about the level of support IT can provide, and so much more.

Read on for the highlights.

What is your enterprise policy regarding smartphone use?

 Corporate-owned  58.5%
 Individual-owned  17.1%
 Combination of both   24.4%
Total respondents: 41
Source: Mobile Enterprise Reader Poll, May 2009

The Top Pain Points Around Corporate-Owned Smartphones

1. Application Clutter
Among the issues here, according to these respondents:
"Not being able to control app downloads easily, resulting in high memory use on the BlackBerry, which then creates helpdesk ticket calls on why their email/call logs are disappearing. Also, the carrier 'junk' icons create confusion and overall financial clutter."

"iPhone and users wanting to use functionality of applications that are not deemed business appropriate."

"Downloading of many commercially available apps that would be useful in the conduct of business are locked out by IT policy."
2. Device Lifecycle & Support
The lack of choice that comes with being restricted to one manufacturer is an oft-cited complaint. Other challenges: dealing with breakage, software updates, and firmware upgrades.

This respondent sums things up:
"Device life cycle and with that is device support. We've tried to standardize on two BlackBerry models and three Windows Mobile devices, but these devices get refreshed or a new and better one gets released every six months. It's a challenge to "make" a corporate owned device "last" [through the course of] its 18--24 month life cycle, because of envy or perceived position within the company. 95% of our mobile users use their smartphone for phone, calendar, email, and contacts, but the end user has this perception a new phone will provide them with more, which it will, but the user does not take advantage of the new features and we have a drawer full of BlackBerry 7250s we sell back to the carrier for $5 a piece."

Adds this respondent, "More and more employees wanting to bring their own devices to the company and connect to our BES or Good (or even Active Sync). We have no good way to manage/support these types of users."

Another respondent, whose enterprise supports only BlackBerys, is dealing with "Rapid turn-over and choice for associates to get the latest device."
3. Complicated policies
These can make things challenging for employees, as this respondent notes: "Company owns the phone but it's on my personal cellphone plan, meaning I'm stuck with the contract extension from the phone purchase if the company goes under or makes program changes.

The Top Pain Points Around Individual-Owned Smartphones

1. Expense
Expense is a big factor among these users. According to this respondent, the biggest challenge is "The cost of having RIM devices in my network. Too many servers. The Active Sync is much cheaper to support in our enterprise."
2. Compliance
This respondent worries about the comfort level of employees in making sure they're corporate-compliant: "We just announced our new Smartphone strategy today, transitioning from company owned BlackBerrys to individually owned -- restricted to platforms that can communicate with Microsoft Active Sync and accepts our policies. We expect our biggest challenge to be the comfort level of employees certifying online to comply to a company policy regarding data privacy and security protection.

The Top Pain Points Around Having A Combination Of Both In Your Enterprise
1. Security
Copyright and security issues are a major concern for enterprise that have a mix of corporate- and individual-owned smartphones. This respondent sums things up: "Biggest Pain: Folks who want the one-off solutions. We are a BlackBerry shop for corporate smartphones. We have piloted Windows Mobile a few times, but for those specific cases they came up short. We allow personal devices to sync to desktops but specifically BAN iPhone/iPod, all Symbian, and personal BlackBerry devices based on copyright and security issues."
From the user perspective, this respondent expresses concerns about an apparent disconnect between the perceived security risks of smartphones versus laptops: "In the corporate IT view, losing a smart phone with relatively a small number of messages in it is paramount to a major disaster, but losing a laptop with hundreds emails within locally stored PST's is viewed as a non-issue."

2. Device management & support
Unrealistic user support expectations are a big bane to the IT departments in enterprises that have both corporate- and individual-owned devices. Notes this respondent, "When a smartphone is used in conjunction with corporate products (email, or other applications) the expectation is that the corporation is now the help desk for everything related to the devices. This includes non-corporate applications or just general troubleshooting related to any problem with the device, regardless of whether or not the device was provided by your corporation or purchased by the individual.

Adds this respondent, "A wide range of devices causes significant challenges for mobilizing line-of-business apps as well as device management, which opens a whole new can of worms with regards to personal data."

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