RealTime IT News

Memo to IT: Can You Support My iPhone, Pre?

Mobile management firm BoxTone today is extending its enterprise software platform beyond BlackBerry devices to allow IT staff to manage, monitor and support the iPhone, Palm Pre and other smartphones using ActiveSync.

The version of the software available today, with its expanded device support, will help IT staff faced with the increasingly common dilemma of accommodating employees who want to use their personal smartphones for business.

"There's been an explosion in employee-owned devices coming into play that's changed the game. BlackBerry is still dominant in the enterprise space, but when a senior executive comes to IT and says they got a new iPhone or Pre and says, 'I want you to support this,' a lot of IT staff are not in a position to say no," Joel Weinshank, director of marketing for BoxTone, told InternetNews.com.

BoxTone 5.0 can also show mobile managers if users are getting the most from their data service plans by providing a real-time inventory of who is using what device and at what times.

This is done by using a 40-point check-list to provide data on the smartphone model and identification number, the owner ( the employee or business), the servers it syncs with and what mail and wireless carriers it supports.

Once inventory is taken, the software tracks and audits user activity so IT staff can identify "rouge" or unsecured smartphones on the network and confirm if devices are wiped.

Tracking the value of off-hours mobile productivity

In addition, Boston 5.0 can track activity before, during or after business hours or on weekends -and compute the actual value of off-hours mobile productivity gains, Weinshank said.

"The software will help quantify the ROI of the platform, determine who is using what devices, how and when, and if people are gaining productivity from the smartphone, and on the flip side who is not. That way you can identify the right carrier plans to save the company money," Weinshank said.

BoxTone is not the only mobile management firm supporting devices beyond the BlackBerry. Good Technology, for one, recently expanded its mobile security services to support the Pre and iPhone, while Zenprise just issued Mobile Manager 5.0 to do the same.

The emerging trend of expanded mobile management in a fragmented market echoes recent data from research firm Gartner. The report said enterprises could lose money if they don't effectively oversee workforce's use of multiple types of handsets that use different types of operating systems.

In addition to security issues, the lack of mobile standards for enterprise use will result in 80 percent of enterprises overspending on their wireless service costs by an average of 15 percent through 2014, according to the Gartner study. BoxTone's CEO Alan Snyder agrees.

"The more smartphones connect to an enterprise, the higher the risk for lost or stolen sensitive information, and the potential for greater IT support costs," said Snyder, in a statement. "With enterprise-enabled smartphones expected to jump from 10-15 percent today to 70-80 percent by 2012, those risks and costs are set to significantly increase."