Back when the iPhone first came out, there were all sorts of stories about how it was no good for the enterprise
. While it's certainly gotten better, it still does seem like the Blackberry is the enterprise smartphone of choice. Yet, many people really do like using the alternatives, and while the solution for many is to now carry around multiple devices, others are beginning to push for companies to support their own devices (iPhone or others). And this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. These days, many technologies used in the office are coming from "the bottom up," meaning that they're personal technologies (hardware, software or services) that individuals are using/buying on their own first, and then realizing they're so useful, that they start using them at work too.
And that, of course, raises the inevitable question of whether or not the IT department should support those technologies
. The easy
answer (which I'm sure we'll hear many times over in the comments) is "of course not." But it might not be that simple any more. Ignoring or holding back those technologies entirely may actually harm overall productivity in some cases, and limit what employees can and should
be doing. Now, obviously, I recognize the argument that a large part of IT's job is to keep things running and protect the overall setup from problems -- and letting in any technology and supporting it can make that very, very difficult. But it ignores the flipside of IT's role: enabling companies and their employees to be more productive through the use of technology. And, even if IT officially decides to not allow things like the iPhone, as the article above points out, it might not matter much:
Likely scenario: An employee is denied an iPhone (or possibly any company-provided smartphone) and decides to get his own personal iPhone for use at work. This surreptitious infiltration is actually a bigger concern than a handful of managers; at least with them you still get to control the configuration and deployment process. If you don't know that workers are using iPhones in your company, you can't secure them at all. You can't even be certain what data might be stored on them.
And since the iPhone is fairly easy for even novice users to set up -- they can sign onto wireless networks, access intranets, and even gain access to an e-mail server -- it's no stretch to imagine that a lone, unauthorized iPhone could seriously compromise confidential data, as well as access to your network and the services running in it.
So, a flat-out ban isn't going to do the trick, but actively supporting any technology people bring into the workplace is too much to handle and causes too many problems. So where is the middle ground?