How to Motivate Smartphone and Application Adoption from the IT Side

Despite the economic downturn and cuts in IT spending in other areas, mobile adoption in the workplace is on the rise. Some companies have chosen to take advantage of the economy to invest in capital projects such as mobility and its infrastructure. Others who thought they could move the expenditure into the next fiscal year are being surprised with employees buying their own devices and expecting to access company assets on them. Here, Knowledge Center contributor William Anderson offers five tips on how to take advantage of this mobile trend to gain the biggest business benefits.


If you are starting to see rogue devices such as iPhones being brought into your organization that are not part of your official mobile infrastructure, know that this actually presents a great opportunity for you and your company. Take advantage of your employees' willingness to use their smartphones to increase the adoption and usage of line of business (LOB) applications such as CRM and sales force automation (SFA)-which traditionally have not achieved 100 percent user adoption.

The following are five tips on how to effectively manage this process and mitigate risk, while gaining the biggest business benefits:

Tip No. 1: Set device management policies to ensure security

The policies you choose to implement will depend on how much time you are willing to invest initially (whether by deploying Web-based mobile applications or device-side applications) and the type of information available via smartphones. The simplest in all categories will be Web-based. By using HTTP Secure (HTTPS), you can ensure the information is encrypted and nothing is lost if the device is left in a coffee shop.

In addition to the challenge of finding yourself out of a coverage zone, the other downside to this solution is that, although standard Web sites can be accessed by smartphone browsers, the more effective ones have specific Web pages tailored towards the smaller screens and reduced user input facilities. Plus, not every LOB application your company uses will have Web access tailored towards a mobile experience.

If you want to invest a little more time, then consider a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which gives you more control over the type of applications your employees can use on the devices, higher security and the ability to wipe devices if lost (or refresh them if there are support issues). BES works with more than just BlackBerry devices, including many of the Nokia phones. Also, support for new devices are being regularly added.

Tip No. 2: Use browser-based applications for occasional users

To conform to your company's security requirements and to keep deployment and management simple, enable your rogue device users and occasional users to access enterprise applications through mobile browsers. This is ideal for people who bring in personal devices that don't conform to your mobile infrastructure such as iPhone, Google G1 or Nokia devices. By using Web-based mobile applications tailored for micro-sized browsers and reduced data entry of a smartphone, you eliminate the challenge of deploying device-side applications and the concerns of having data stored on the device. Data is viewed on the device through the browser and most Web applications use secure protocols for data transmission.

The downside to this approach is that your field staff will need to have a solid network connection, which may be a challenge if they're traveling to rural areas. This challenge will obviously decrease as carriers continue to build faster and broader network infrastructures. But these types of solutions should satisfy the demands of your rogue mobile users, while allowing them to be more productive and still in alignment with your IT policies.