Apple iPhone and the Enterprise: Happy Together?

The Apple iPhone can find a comfortable home in the enterprise, a new report from Forrester Research suggests. The RIM BlackBerry is still a superior messaging and calendar device, eWEEK is told, but with the iPhone 3.0 addressing many often-voiced security concerns, for content-centric applications, the iPhone is becoming the sanctioned enterprise device of choice.

Few disagree that, with the iPhone, Apple changed users' expectations of devices and how they interact with them-in short, mobility. Whether the iPhone is a fit for the enterprise, however, is a topic that provokes debate.
Forrester Research released a report on April 10, "Making iPhone Work in the Enterprise: Early Lessons Learned," in which report author Ted Schadler offers the experiences of three enterprises-Kraft Foods, Oracle and a California-based pharmaceuticals company-that have adopted iPhones.
Each example offers the pros and cons of the experience, but the report-which points out challenges to avoid, as well as advice for properly planning cultural, support and provisioning changes-is in favor of iPhone adoption within enterprises.
Ultimately, Schadler suggests that the security concerns that prevented adoption are no longer valid for some companies, particularly with the iPhone 3.0 addressing many of the remaining concerns, such as forcing a user to sign into the VPN each time, instead of automatically signing her in.
The IT staff at Kraft Foods saw iPhone adoption as a way of proving to its work force that it was serious about introducing new tools and technologies in support of them, and in April 2008 it became a part of Apple's iPhone Enterprise Beta program.
"Every time Apple puts out a new release on the consumer side, they're very private about it," explained Schadler. "On the software side they've been much more open. The way companies work is, they want to know what's going on and want to be part of a vetting program."
The Enterprise Beta program, Schadler said, is a way of addressing this.
"Enterprises want to see themselves as partners, they want to be involved," Schadler added. "IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, for example, have become much more open about sharing the next version and what it's going to happen."
Apple, he said, began to do this with the iPhone 2.0.
As of this past January, almost half of Kraft Foods' mobile team were using iPhones-a number Schadler pointed out is significant, given that mobile adoption at that stage is generally 10 percent, with 20 percent being the higher end-and about 400 new iPhones are being ordered each month.
Among the benefits Kraft is seeing is a change in the culture of the company to take advantage of new technologies; among the challenges were problems with calendar synchronization.