A new Forrester report finds the iPhone can lead to a more productive mobile workforce, but a few issues need to be worked out before it's ready for enterprise deployments.
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10 iPhone Apps For Your Business
Apple's iPhone 3G has been a hit with consumers, but questions still remain about whether it's ready for prime time in the enterprise space. This may be slowly changing though, as some businesses have seen improved results after embracing the touch-screen smartphone, according to a new report from Forrester research.
The report, titled "Making iPhone Work In The Enterprise: Early Lessons Learned," studied iPhone deployment at Kraft Foods, Oracle, and Amylin Pharmaceutical, and found the handset has overcome many of the concerns of the 1.0 software to be a strong platform for delivering content and collaboration applications to an increasingly mobile workforce.
"If the iPhone is just another messaging device, then don't bother with it," the report said. "It can be far more because it is a capable platform for mobile applications. The right sponsor will have a mobile scenario that needs supporting, perhaps a view of much needed third-party applications, or at least a vision for how to get more information to mobile workers."
The main advantage of deploying iPhones is that it can lead to a happier, more productive workforce with lower support costs. Consumers have been flocking to the iPhone, and allowing employees to have a choice in their equipment could lead to a happier workforce that has a clear line of communication with the IT department. Additionally, the three companies studied have implemented wikis to create community-based support groups for the handset, which has led to reduced support costs.
Apple's mobile platform is another draw for enterprises, Forrester said, because it can create strong mobile collaboration opportunities. Developers have shown Apple's handset a lot of support, and there are nearly 30,000 programs in the App Store, including multiple apps tailored for enterprise use.
But the iPhone has its warts, as the report said BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphones still have stronger integrated messaging and calendar programs. Unlike the BlackBerry Enterprise Server suite, there's still a dearth of iPhone management tools, which could scare some IT departments away.
There are also security policy issues with the iPhone, as it will likely see more personal use than other mobile devices. Additionally, not every company is comfortable letting iPhones in their firewalls because of their VPN setting, but some of these issues could be addressed with the iPhone 3.0 software.
The iPhone may be your next full-function computer. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).
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