Personal Devices Create a Dilemma for Corporate IT - Page 4
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 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.
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.