Forget the fear: Learning to love iPads and Androids at work

Some IT execs say smartphones and tablets are a welcome fact of life, while others remain fearful about their entrée into the enterprise

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Employees whose jobs don't require specific equipment get a sense of personal empowerment and enablement, creating or augmenting a culture that says outcomes matter more than (bureaucratic) process. Naturally, some processes matter in and of themselves, but think about how few processes actually depend on specific equpment being used and often don't require specific software -- as long as they support the process requirements, such as tracked changes in a legal workflow.

Costs go down at several levels. IT has less to manage at the endpoint, where service delivery is the most expensive. How often have you seen Gartner, Forrester, and IDC issue reports saying PCs costs $5,000 per year per user to manage and smartphones cost maybe $3,000? I've always found those figures suspect, but even if true, that simply shows the value of getting out of the endpoint business. You can't get rid of all management costs -- after all, the network and data center and databases need to be managed so that the endpoints can appropriately access them -- but you can get rid of a lot, especially related to support.

Many companies have also found they get big cost reductions by not issuing smartphones or paying for data plans. Instead, they give employees a stipend based on their role (and thus need for mobile data access). Many don't even pay for the device, figuring people would buy one for personal use anyhow, so the device is becoming like broadband access at home: a required personal investment. All of this means employees are now policing their own use, and the company is no longer in the "check on the carriers" game that costs hundreds of thousands or more to play each year.

All in all, the shift to heterogeneity is easy to embrace, oce you get past the endpoint control mentality. Companies have successfully embraced diversity in people, in geography, and in work processes. Now it's time for hetereogeneity in work devices.

This article, "Forget the fear: Learning to love iPads and Androids at work," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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