Managing a mobile mess

Managing a mobile mess

With mobility on the rise, so too are IT administrator bugbears. Yet, the mobile mess should be seen as a channel opportunity.

A mobile workforce is inherently a more productive one. When one’s job isn’t constrained by location or business hours, decision-makers are more responsive, field workers more efficient.

But where there are drivers for the business and the more flexible worker, the one party that has little to gain from enterprise mobility is the IT administrator.

Today’s administrator is faced with enormous challenges. Ever since their domain was stretched beyond the LAN to supporting workers roaming on public networks, the mix of mobile devices and services to support has grown ever more complex.

Where a typical mobile workforce began with Win32 laptops and perhaps RIM BlackBerry devices for senior executives, today there are Windows Mobile devices to consider, Symbian-based smartphones from Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson, the stupendously popular Apple iPhone and an upcoming slew of Android-based open source devices. There are multiple carriers to bargain with, multiple devices to support, more applications demanded out in the field.

Where the IT administrator sees a pain-point, the channel should see opportunity.

The five biggest bugbears:

1. Compatibility

Is the device compatible with the organisation’s existing infrastructure?

One of the main causes of frustration is the tendency for workers to approach an IT department with a new device they have purchased, seeking to connect to corporate IT assets with it.

CIOs, said Ovum telecommunications analyst, Claudio Castelli, are receiving “daily phone calls asking when the company will be able to support the iPhone”.

The iPhone – a highly functional consumer device, is the ultimate expression of what Nathan Burley, a fellow Ovum analyst, called the “consumerisation of IT”.

It was only a few years ago that a clear distinction could be made between a corporate device and a personal device – one focused on encrypted push email, the other was anything with a camera, media player and external media ports. But today, even RIM is launching BlackBerrys with glitzy consumer features; the new BlackBerry Pearl Flip phone, for example.

For some administrators, the answer to the question of new devices is to simply say ‘no’. If the device isn’t in their mobile strategy (if indeed they have one), it won’t be considered. That scenario becomes somewhat more complicated when it’s the CEO that wants the sexy new device.

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