Companies need to get ready for Apple iPhone onslaught

“Apple plans to unveil the iPhone [on June 29]. According to a person close to Apple, the company is expected to fight for this market, currently dominated by players like BlackBerry’s RIM, Palm Inc. and, increasingly, Nokia Corp. and Motorola. If Apple comes up with an acceptable strategy for integrating with business software systems, many companies might change their tunes,” Nick Wingfield and Jessica E. Vascellaro report for The Wall Street Journal.

“Apple’s plan to go after the business market represents a shift for the company, which has never been a strong player in corporate technology. In recent years its focus on the consumer market has accelerated with its products like the iPod and its effort to open a broad network of retail stores,” Wingfield and Vascellaro report.

“The initial plans of many companies to snub the iPhone will likely come as a disappointment to many consumers who are eager to substitute the iPhone for the multiple devices they carry around for music, cellphone and both corporate and personal email services. These users may put pressure on business technology departments to support iPhones even if that means incurring additional expense and changing their policies,” Wingfield and Vascellaro report. “Incompatible technology has become an increasing problem for businesses as hand-held email and phone devices are evolving into minicomputers that can do such things as download music, take pictures and surf the Web.”

MacDailyNews Take: And one device, Apple’s iPhone, is far more evolved than anything else on the market today. The IT dinos will be — gasp! — forced to accommodate the employees; a rarity, we know, but watch and see.

Wingfield and Vascellaro report, “The public’s broad acceptance of the iPod, more than 100 million of which have been sold, has given Apple a hip currency among many professionals, including business travelers for whom iPods are ubiquitous gadgets on the go. That, in turn, could translate into strong demand for the iPhone among business users.”

“Troy Saxton-Getty, vice president of technical operations at St. Bernard Software Inc., a software company based in San Diego, says he currently wants to support only BlackBerrys. The system becomes less reliable when other devices are introduced, he says,” Wingfield and Vascellaro report.

MacDailyNews Take: Then, get a better system.

Wingfield and Vascellaro continue, “But Mr. Saxton-Getty says he is worried that ‘rogue’ employees may figure out ways to route their corporate emails to their iPhone. ‘I am getting a lot of push back, and people saying they are just going to go get it on their own,’ he says, adding that an employee asks him about the iPhone and whether the company will support it about every hour. Jonathan Anderson, who works for St. Bernard Software, says he plans to ditch his new BlackBerry for an iPhone as soon as he can get his hands on one and set it up on his own.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The IT guys are in for a rude awakening and the iPhone is only the beginning. They will have to accommodate the iPhone. Too many important employees will demand it and IT won’t be able to stem the tide. The fact is that business people will decide which device they want to carry and their businesses will adapt to it. Just as they did with “Microsoft-incompatible” Research In Motion’s Blackberry. Apple’s iPhone will be a success with business users whether the IT guy wants it or even whether AT&T and Apple tailor marketing to businesses or not.

Note to CEOs: Who runs the company, you or the IT guy? It’s your job to make the decisions and it’s the IT guy’s job to implement your decisions that relate to technology. Just as with Macs, you need to educate yourself instead of relying on someone with their own, possibly hidden, agendas to make extremely important technology decisions for your company. Most of you could be saving a LOT of money right now, but you aren’t because you’ve delegated an important part of your company’s decision-making to people who, frankly, in our experience, aren’t capable of making good, sound, strategic, long-term decisions. Most IT guys (and we know many) are not open-minded enough to be able to consider new, better, more efficient, more effective options that would benefit your company. In fact, most IT guys we’ve met will throw up road blocks and repeat myths until they’re blue in the face in order to avoid change. Especially change that might make their department less critical or smaller. Bottom line: most of you CEOs have given the IT guy way, way, way too much power. It’s time to take it back.

62 Comments

  1. As one of the IT guys some of you want to shoot I will say, and I am sure I am not alone, that I am excited about the iPhone and it raises the bar over blackberry in _certain_ respects.

    BUT, if it doesn’t wirelessly sync with the major groupware platforms it just won’t fly as a business device. IMAP email isn’t enough. Attachment support will be a critical factor.

    The v1.0 factor is a problem for a lot of businesses. Where my business is on the line I am not going to take risks on unproven technology.

    Whether CEOs or rank and file like it or not, if the iPhone cannot be configured for legal compliance, i.e. encryption, remote lock/wipe, etc. (Esp. in the financial services and legal sectors) the lack of this would make the iPhone a non-starter. I can make my environment very unfriendly to the iPhone by blocking standards based email such as IMAP and POP3 at my network perimeter. I am sure many companies would be forced to make a decision to do this or not as a result of the iPhone onslaught. MacDailyNews’s CEO take is so off base. The first concern of good CEOs is to make sure that all liabilities (which a stolen or lost iPhone could be) are controlled so the company doesn’t GET SUED or LOSE PROFITS due to a loss of a trade secret. What will Apple do to control the iPhone in their own environment?

    Some of you responding to the post talk big, but I am sure that few of you would risk _losing your job_ by introducing an unapproved device that could be construed as data theft. Some businesses disallow and restrict even lowly pen drives.

    Oh the camera…work for the Department of Defense or a courthouse? You won’t pass security! Care to risk confiscation or worse?

    That said, I still like the iPhone and I hope to be able to support it when it has matured into a solid, secure platform for businesses. When Apple comes out with the business iPhone it will probably address all of these needs in the same superior manner it has addressed consumer needs.

    One more point, few employees would be willing to spend their own money for this as a business tool. Few companies will let you expense a cell phone. My AT&T rep says I cannot buy an iPhone on our corporate plan. Big problem and another non-starter.

    Sam

  2. One way the CEOs will learn that they have to support the iPhone, and Macs too, is when they loose top job candidates coming from the universities, where Macs are now and iPhones will soon be the technology of choice for the best and the brightest. The IT obstructionists will be run over by the corporate need to hire top talent.

  3. MDN: “Who runs the company, you or the IT guy? It’s your job to make the decisions and it’s the IT guy’s job to implement your decisions that relate to technology.”

    CEOs ought to be making strategic decisions, and competent management ought to be supporting those decisions in ways that make sense for the business and are supportable, extensible, and effective.

    A business that relies on fast, reliable communication w/ mobile employees (like a traveling sales force) needs a technology like GoodLink or Blackberry that supports push-style, always-on connectivity. Plenty of high-ups are going to fall for iPhone and ask for it, and plenty of competent, responsible IT directors are going to say “it doesn’t make sense for this company at this time.”

    When iPhone supports a secure push tech from enterprise mail servers (not Yahoo!) then it’ll be a legit option for business customers. Until then, it’s a novelty consumer-level gadget.

    And this ALL assumes that the thing even works as advertised.

  4. No company is going to have to make room for the iphone because it is a non-product. It is incompatible with everything except the Macintosh, which is never used in business. We have yet another product for the ultra-rich that has no business purpose. A new toy for the CEO to show his buddies on the exclusive golf range that exemplifies how stupid executives can be. If you want a real smart phone then get one of the excellent devices from HP. They are compatible with the products employees need and are safe and secure.

    Who knows about the iphone? If safari is any guide as to the security of this brain dead pseudo product then I can’t think of an IT guy on the planet that would allow it on the network. When will the fawning media figure out that software and security is important? Who cares about executive toys that normal people will never be able to afford? Maybe it would help Apple to move to Italy so they can be near Ferrari and Lamborghini and feel at home?

  5. Sam –

    Right on. MDN has obviously never taken the blame and seen his/her (or in some ways worse: someone else’s) head roll for implementing insecure or unstable solutions that were insisted upon by management levels far removed from the technology itself.

  6. Macs are making huge headway among developers, who love being able to run Windows, Linux, and OS X on one machine, and college students, who love iPods, iLife and Final Cut. These are the folks who’ll be running IT in a few years, and they’ll be bringing their Macs with them.

  7. @ Sam..

    Good post. It’s obvious that the little Fanboys who post here have no concept of business. My company blocks ALL webmail and my Blackberry is synced with Lotus Notes through our VERY secure enterprise servers.. The inability to open a WORD or EXCEL document is also a show stopper.

    I’m sure my company (a large US energy provider) is going to give up security because a bunch of fanboys employees “demand” an iphone so they can listen to music and watch videos all day… NOT!

    That said, I will be getting one for my PERSONAL use. It’s a great product for consumers, but it’s not even in the same league as a blackberry for corporate users. Hopefully, Apple is working on a multi touch business phone (sans the iPod, camera and with the ability to open attachments and push mail to it from our secure servers)…..

    Just a touch of reality…

  8. PC Apologist: oh, you mean insecure things like Windows? IE? etc. etc. Insisted upon by Management?

    Now I understand what you mean!

    I think you will find that for those very same reasons of security management are going to want out of these products and into new ones that are considerably better and more secure.

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