Deal With It, Boss: Workers Want Android, iPhone Devices

The days of the boss dictating which smartphone you'll use are rapidly drawing to a close. A younger, tech-savvy generation of information workers is calling the shots, and it's increasingly requesting consumer-friendly Android and iOS (iPhone) devices, according to a new report from market researcher Forrester.

As a result, IT and telecom managers over the next 12 to 18 months will have to revise their client computing strategies to incorporate smartphones from multiple vendors.

"IT managers are shifting away from a one size-fits-all, corporate-liable smartphone model to one that: 1) includes support for at least BlackBerry, iOS, and Android, and 2) is much more open to individually liable devices connecting to corporate resources," write Forrester analysts Benjamin Gray and Christian Kane.

BlackBerry Still on Top

Forrester interviewed 200 companies for its "Market Overview: Smartphone Management" report, and found that half of the firms have already adopted a multi-platform mobile philosophy. The challenge for IT managers is how to best embrace multiple phones, some of which have lackluster security and management tools.

Not surprisingly, Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices and BlackBerry Enterprise Server remain the "gold standard" when it comes to management and security. RIM tops its smartphone competitors by providing more than 500 wireless configuration and enforcement policies.

A recent Forrester survey shows that 70 percent of North American and European companies support BlackBerry today. Here's the breakdown for the rest of the mobile OS pack:

  • Windows Mobile: 41 percent
  • iOS (iPhone and iPad): 29 percent
  • Android: 13 percent
  • Windows Embedded CE: 13 percent
  • Palm OS: 12 percent
  • webOS: 8 percent
  • Symbian: 7 percent

Despite RIM's charms, however, enterprises are under pressure to loosen their mobile policies and embrace phones from other vendors.

In fact, nearly 60 percent of firms surveyed by Forrester provide some support of personally-owned smarphones. Why? One reason is that the multi-platform strategy helps businesses attract and retain top talent. In other words, if a top recruit want to use her iPhone for work, well, IT had better make it so.

The challenge for businesses is how to maintain a high level of security while incorporating non-BlackBerry devices. One option is to find "device agnostic" third-party management tools that work with--or ultimately replace--BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Of course, another challenge is finding talented IT staffers who keep up with the latest security threats on multiple mobile OS platforms, including Android and iOS.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter http://twitter.com/jbertoluccior at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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