I work in an environment where the expectation of the speed of answers and responses doesn’t make any allowance for my not being at my (or even a) desk. It simply would not be expected that I put up a ‘travelling and not available on email’ notice on Exchange’. Therefore I have to have, and use a Smart Phone, (or a Blackberry – take your pick). The case that this is a normal IT supported tool seemed obvious to me. At this point I have a strong suspicion that there are a fair number of government employees saying ‘you should be so lucky to work for an organisation that gives out and supports Smart Phones’. So why is it so difficult to get what would seem to some to be an indispensable tool, and yet to others is completely and utterly not in the frame?
Here is a way to pinpoint the issue, try it out with your colleagues, though you will need to modify exactly how you make this point to suit your department and circumstances, but you will see the issue I am driving at. I asked the question in the title, as in ‘if either your PC or your Smart Phone (Blackberry) was to fail and not be available for three days which would you choose to have working?’ If the person was in a true administrative back office support function they would say their PC as their work was fundamentally based at a given desk and they had access to a phone on the desk. If their role was ‘operational’, i.e. they were driven by events, meeting people outside their own offices etc, and then the choice will be the Smartphone. A less polite colleague dubbed it; ‘value creating roles need to be where the event is happening, supporting roles have the process delivered to them’.
A little harsh maybe but if you examine the logic then a smart phone can be with you at all times, you can do email, read, if you are really determined even create, documents, handle spreadsheets, but most of all simply be in touch with the constant changing circumstances and able to direct activities. So there is the answer to why I follow the mobility market, and why I spot business people everywhere tapping away on their smart phones all the time, it has become normal business behaviour. Is that now IT? And has the IT function really mastered the integration and support that should go with this? I mean more than user driven synchronisation of email in that question!
So with this in mind and for those of you with an IT mindset the last statistics on operating system shipments said that iPhone now had a market share that equates to half of the total Linux market share. A quiet revolution indeed and one that should encourage the IT department with its focus on using Linux as a cost reducing OS to ask some questions about including iPhone on its OS focus! However with Apple iPhone running so far ahead of the rest in sales, and use, it’s a little worrying that I have not seen any security utilities for the iPhone. Can anyone help us all with a post pointing to some products or services? Is this acknowledged by other CIOs etc as a really big problem by default? ie. Users choosing iPhones regardless of the enterprise issues. Second test here; look around and see how many managers are supplying their own phone and the prevalence of iPhones over other Smart Phones.
If you are driven to doing this then the business tools are coming along nicely with Dataviz the provider of the popular Documents ToGo Microsoft Office Compatible suite promising new versions for the iPhone and Android.http://www.appscout.com/2009/02/dataviz_promises_ms_office_for_android_iphone_at_mwc.php The URL to follow up on this I have provided takes you to AppScout.com whose tag line is ‘stalking the killer app’. It’s an interesting site to know about, especially if you want to keep up with all the new ‘not mainstream’ stuff such as Apps for mobility! It is actually run by PC Magazine and there is my final point. To many business users the phone has become the more accessible device for them to ‘do their own thing’ with in terms of getting ‘what they want the way they want it’.
We have all done such a good job of managing the PC to stop damaging rogue activities that the users have migrated their ‘personalisation’ activities to their smart phones! It’s no good saying that Smart Phones are not part of IT, because they certainly are part of an Enterprise users activities and technology base, so a proper approach to enabling them to be used well, pass the risk audit etc, and become a valuable integrated part of the IT environment is needed. Sorry to my colleague, but Smart Phones are part of your responsibilities in IT today!
May be in Government circles that is a valid reason for not accepting Smart Phones, but on the other hand in the USA President Obama didn’t let it get in this way!