Personal Devices Create a Dilemma for Corporate IT - Page 4

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-01-12 Print this article Print

The next step is to meld the BlackBerrys into Merrill Lynch's corporate culture, which Swanson is trying to do through custom-developed applications. "There is a natural demand for BlackBerrys," he said. "I'm trying to -Merrill-ize' them with in-house applications such as compliance training and employee evaluation."

Merrill Lynch's employee evaluation application is well-established on the PC. Managers use it to rate their direct reports in a number of categories on a five-point scale. The uptake so far on mobile devices has been modest, however. "We offered it to 8,000 people on the BlackBerry, and 1,400 people chose to use it," said Swanson.

The WWF's Smith said his organization is developing a BlackBerry application that will allow users to enter information about a fund-raising prospect into a custom screen; that data would then be saved on a server. The WWF is testing integration of the application with its CRM (customer relationship management) system.

The WWF also is testing an application for naturalists to use in counting wildlife species in the field. The information can be saved on a BlackBerry and then transmitted to remote computers where analytics can be performed.

Other companies have approved a variety of devices in the workplace, increasing the number of choices for users but also increasing administrative burdens.

This can be particularly challenging when regulatory concerns are an issue. "People travel more," said Rob Israel, CIO of John C. Lincoln Health Network. "They use a laptop and a PDA, and they want to use different technologies, like iPods. But in health care, with HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], we need to protect the integrity of our network from miscellaneous equipment coming in."

While guarding against unauthorized devices, Israel has approved several different multifunction devices so that users can leverage the one that suits their particular needs best.

To secure the systems, Israel is using software from Lumension that handles devices from different vendors. "We like the multitude of products we can authorize and use with the Lumension program," he said. "People like some variety with applications and devices. This way, people can pick and choose what they use. So we're not just Big Brother. We like the fact that we can have multiple devices."

The standard device at John C. Lincoln Health Network is any of several BlackBerry models or the Palm Treo with the GoodLink messaging service.

With feelings sometimes running high around personal devices, it may be wise to offer a choice, even if it's a limited one. But today's corporate policy is just that-today's.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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