It Feels Like 'Take Your Smartphone To Work Day' - InformationWeek

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9/24/2008
12:53 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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It Feels Like 'Take Your Smartphone To Work Day'

No, this event doesn't exist, but CIOs are starting to feel like it does. The crescendo of "I want to use my iPhone" howls will only grow with gadgets like the HTC G1 phone, the first on Google's Android platform.

No, this event doesn't exist, but CIOs are starting to feel like it does. The crescendo of "I want to use my iPhone" howls will only grow with gadgets like the HTC G1 phone, the first on Google's Android platform.I've been asking people lately what their smartphone policies are. My short list below is far from exhaustive, but best to share what I'm hearing and let you chime in with what you're doing. The one conclusion that's clear: this pressure is real and growing on CIOs and their IT and telecom teams. It's like the ability to work from home, accessing corporate systems from a home PC or home Internet connection. Companies were able to say "no" to that for a while, a few regulated industries still might, but most had to answer that demand for home connectivity.

Here are some policies I've heard recently on personal smartphones, please share your own in the comments.

Allow them but don't support them. Some IT shops are not banning personal smartphones for work use but are saying the IT team isn't going to support them. The obvious downside is the pressure on IT teams to help out -- "Can you just get me started? Can you just solve this one glitch?..." -- will often prove irresistible. Especially when it's a top executive asking for the help, which is often the case.

Establish tiers of devices. It's one thing to insist people use the company-issued smartphone over their own preferred brand. What if a person doesn't qualify to get a company-issued smartphone, but wants to pony up for their own? Some IT teams are helping these people get varying levels of business functionality on these devices. CIOs can bank on much more pressure for this kind of connectivity as smartphones become commonplace.

Allow a personal smartphone to be used as a business cell phone. This is a variation on "don't support" that I just recently discussed with one CIO. The CIO doing this has salespeople and executives going to great lengths to use an iPhone for work, so the IT team is allowing it for calling but not pushing e-mail or installing business applications. The concern is that supporting it would increase infrastructure costs and, perhaps most important, that they can't wipe the iPhone clean remotely, the CIO tells me. With calling and Webmail, people can do a lot on smartphone

Standardize on one device, ban the rest. I've heard this approach some in regulated industries, based on the ability to remotely wipe lost devices.

You choose, we'll support. I haven't talked directly with anyone going this route, though I would be surprised if it's not happening, just as employees in some cases are allowed to pick their own laptops.

There are certainly other approaches. What policies are you taking to the "let me use my smartphone" pressure?

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