The ranks of enterprise IT appear to be arrayed shoulder to shoulder—in Roman Legion-style—against the invasion of the iPhone likely to start within days after Apple releases the device on June 29.
However, the defense may be futile. After all, the horde carrying the forthcoming Apple phone wont be barbarians; rather, the very folks doing the work, and worse, some may well be the boss.
How evil is the iPhone to the enterprise? So much so that it seems to send the blood boiling.
“The iPhone is—and I cant stress this enough—not an enterprise-class device,” Benjamin Gray, analyst for Infrastructure & Operations with Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., told eWEEK.com. The analyst didnt deny Apples innovation and predicted the move will drive enterprise-class device manufacturers to produce more “consumer-friendly smart phones, which will drive the next wave of adoption over the next few years.” Yet, June 2007 wasnt the time.
Gray ran down a long list of iPhone deficits: the lack of support for business e-mail, such as Microsofts Exchange and Research In Motions BlackBerry services; the lack of third-party applications; a high price tag; and limited support from service providers.
“Nor does it come with tools for IT to secure the data on the device through encryption or the ability to remotely lock or wipe a lost or stolen device. I find it hard to believe that many IT managers will mistake the iPhone for a business device for these reasons,” Gray said.
But this shared understanding by IT isnt the issue. Instead, its those pesky users—and worse, those pesky bosses. They just dont get it.
This culture clash between enterprise users and the IT department keeps growing. The analyst company Gartner calls this trend “consumerization,” where the consumers of a technology drive its adoption into the enterprise, rather than coming from IT. The iPhone is just the latest candidate for contention over computing environments.
At the April Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in San Francisco, the turf war looked to be the notebook computer. In simple terms: Who will own the corporate notebook in the future, the company or the workers?
During a presentation on client machines, Gartner Research Vice President Steve Kleynhans said the expectations of many users in the enterprise have changed. The PC generation, who were teenagers a decade ago, now are the “MBA hotshots running major projects for your organization.”
“The users today arent looking to the IT group to tell them what technology can do. They know what it can do. What they look for is guidance on making it work,” Kleynhans said.
However, to these new customers, the current IT experience “stands for the inhibitor of technology,” Kleynhans said. He observed that there is a basic conflict growing between the pushing clients and the IT traffic cops.
At the same time, IT organizations are still charged with the delivery and security of the computing resources. Thats a tough mission.
So, this cultural conflict over the client platform will play out with Apples iPhone.
Gartner is also advising its clients to forgo the iPhone. But Van Baker, a Gartner vice president, admitted to me that keeping out the device will be a difficult task for IT.
“People are going to bring these things in, and IT is going to have to figure out how to deal with them. Especially when its a C-level exec who brings the thing in, who thinks its cool and wants to read his e-mail—IT will have to figure out how to make it work,” Baker said.
He added that IT objected to Windows when it first arrived.
“Now, if we look at the list of technologies that IT has successfully stopped from coming into the enterprise—which has absolutely nothing on it—you realize this is a losing battle. You cant stop this stuff from coming in,” he said.
Baker suggested that a proactive stance will be a more reasonable position for IT to take on nonstandard technologies such as the iPhone: determine how to make it all work without corrupting the corporate database and applying the appropriate policies.
The e-mail connectivity for iPhone users can be accomplished via IMAP, although it wont be the most elegant solution, according to Baker. “But it will work.”
[IT departments] need to understand there are potential benefits. And the likelihood they can stop this is almost nonexistent,” he said.
Who are the
The issue with the iPhone in the enterprise wont be one of deployment. These phones will be purchased by the users and then given a show-and-tell to the IT department.
At ITXpo, Gartner broke down these “rogue,” or “maverick,” users—those who refuse to use the standard issue equipment—into different categories.
First, there are C-level executives who have enough moxie to break the IT rules. Gartner said that, by the end of 2008, 50 percent of C-level execs will do most of their work on a “nonstandard” PC.
The next group is the “key knowledge workers,” who are allowed more flexibility because the IT department can trust that these power users will take care of security and other support issues on their own.
The final category is made up of users who need something special for work, a more powerful machine than the standard issue or even a different platform, such as a Macintosh. For example, even in the most PC of organizations there are often some Macs down in the marketing department or wherever content is created and managed.
Of course, Gartner wasnt talking about Macs. Instead, a nonstandard PC means a Windows machine that is outside the control and even ownership of IT. Its used both for work and personal computing. Users want certain applications and capabilities for their computing environment that fall outside the corporate standard or budget.
But as Ive pointed out in past columns, switchers to the Macintosh in the C-level suites are joining the longstanding holdouts down in the art department. And even members of the technical knowledge worker set are coming over to the Mac in the enterprise.
Another worry of enterprise IT managers may be that the iPhone will expand on the iPods “halo effect” for the Macintosh. Paul Camillos, partner at consultancy Ephemeral Technologies in Sydney, Australia, said some of his clients have already warned of increased Mac interest from the iPhone hype.
“One IT manager I know said that there was no way that he would allow a Mac into his environment,” he said. “Hed rather quit and said he would lobby strongly to all management against the introduction of the iPhone in case it acted as a precursor to management wanting Macs.”
Well, the iPhone wont hit Australia until the end of the year, so this guy will have a bit of a breather. However, he may want to start brushing up his resume if hes going to take this “no iPhone and Mac or I quit” stance.
The Mac has been infiltrating itself into the enterprise, one MacBook Pro at a time. The iPhone will be another vanguard for Apple.
Meanwhile, the flurry this week of FUD around the iPhone put a smile on my face—particularly the concerns about its price and carrier.
For example, in an IDC survey 60 percent of respondents said they were interested in the iPhone, but only 10 percent were interested in paying full price.
In a press release on the data, analyst Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research at IDC, said: “Despite all the hype, there is little clarity on Apples (and AT&Ts) service plans for the device. This lack of clarity could adversely impact consumers purchase decisions.”
Come on, since when has price been a concern for early adopters or, more importantly in this case, anyone wanting the coolest new thing on the market? And this phone looks way cool. We will all see if it can meet its hype.
Actually, as technology introductions go, the iPhone isnt that expensive. The same argument was made about the first iPods, and look where that went. And this phone is eye candy of the highest order; owners will suddenly have a lot of new friends—everyone will want to play with it.
Thousands of IT organizations will be approached in the next couple of weeks by thousands of executives and will be asked to “make it work.” That number will grow over the summer and into the fall.
My bet is that most IT managers will find that the iPhone FUD was overplayed and that support wont be so tough.
What do you think? Is the iPhone a nightmare or just another days work? Let us know here.