In business, the smartphone and tablets have become as indispensable as the PC. Managers routinely expect their employees to be in touch and productive wherever they are. Now companies need to reign in smartphone use without impeding the functionality that is setting employees free.
Smartphone proliferation is not simply a top-down push for improving productivity. A Market Pulse survey from IDG Research found that 74% of employees wanted real-time access to critical business information through their mobile devices. They are even willing to use their own devices for this, with 59% asking to do exactly that. And Aberdeen Group found that nearly three quarters of companies allow employee-owned smartphones and tablets to be used at work.
Smartphones help employees work in new ways. A marketing executive, for instance, may use a device to photograph a competitor's billboard and tag it in a database for market research, or he may use social networks to access information about the latest trends during a meeting with a client. And yet, these capabilities - social media, location awareness, video cameras, messaging and consumer applications - are open to misuse, neglect and misunderstanding.
"Whether the smartphone is corporate or employee owned, businesses now have to ensure all devices used for work or during working hours, are used responsibly, effectively and without danger to the business," advises Emmanuel Beucher, Product Manager for smartphone management at Orange Business Services.
The big difference between the age of smartphone and the PC era is fragmentation. Enterprise desktops have been dominated by Windows: but despite the column inches devoted to iPhones and Android, there is a host of other device operating systems including Symbian, Windows Phone, Blackberry and Bada.
Another fragmentation issue is where mobility is managed. A 2010 CxO survey by Orange Business Services found that just 16% of companies coordinate mobility at a global level (and 12% regionally). The result is that many companies (at least 40%) are now admitting that mobility is difficult to manage and their approach is disjointed. Just 12% of companies in the CxO survey claimed to have a good handle on mobility and a clear future strategy.
To help businesses cope with this complexity, Orange Business Services has developed a mobile device management service that is operator and country agnostic. It can be implemented on virtually any device in both GSM and CDMA environments.
Smartphone Management from Orange helps the IT department achieve control over its mobile estate by providing a central Web-based console that enables device monitoring, configuration and security policy enforcement, control of email access and application store. The solution also includes powerful process automation and content distribution capabilities.
"Smartphone Management is not just for corporate phones, you can also centrally manage rights and configure bring-your-own devices, wherever they are, as long as they have an Internet connection," says Beucher. "We can create a private app store for Androids and iPhones, and we push applications over the air to Windows Mobile and Symbian devices."
For instance, with Smartphone Management, you can create a kind of partition on an employee's iPhone so that he can access corporate resources, such as messaging, in a secure and self-contained environment. This allows businesses to implement a corporate configuration and security policy without impacting the personal applications and data on the device. If the device is lost or the employee leaves, Smartphone Management can remotely wipe all the corporate data from the device's partition, leaving the personal data intact.
Smartphone Management gives companies a global view of all their mobile devices and lets them set a consistent configuration and block or remove devices in the event of a breach or loss. It is a fully-hosted service on a shared or dedicated Afaria server. Pricing is per device, so companies will only ever pay for what is used. It includes device encryption, firewall, anti-virus and support for the most common devices, including iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile.