November 27, 2009, 11:50 AM — It's a given that every user in your enterprise wants, and probably needs, a smartphone. There are issues around creating solid applications for the smartphones that I'll look at in other blog posts, but before we ever get to creating apps we have to deal with how to manage all these mobile devices that are now running wildly around in our organization. At the recent Interop conference in New York, several speakers described a growing trend for companies to allow employees to provide their own smartphone, then bill the company for business use. While this approach might make the users happy, it creates complications that can have the IT staff lobbying for the return of the three-martini lunch.
Mobiso is a new cloud-based service provider I met at Interop. Their service is designed to allow individuals to download a small applet onto their smartphone, then keep track of business calls versus personal conversations and easily send in an expense report at the end of the month. That's the user-focused carrot to make users happier about IT managing their device. The benefits to the organization can be much more substantial.
When I managed a sales team, one of my consistent fears was that one of my team would leave the company and take their contact list with them. We had a number of ways to try to get around this, but they were all cumbersome, and I never truly believed in their effectiveness. With Mobiso, the contact list that allows the employee to be compensated for phone calls made is backed up so management can have access to the list even if the employee leaves or tries to delete contacts. Frankly, this alone could make the service worthwhile. The fact that it helps protect the employee from losing data if the phone is destroyed, and allows for faster expense processing is just very tasty icing on the cake.
There are a couple of additional factors around Mobiso that make it useful. One is that it's a cross-platform application. One of the great enterprise advantages of the Blackberry has been the backend Blackberry management application, but a growing number of individuals want something besides a Blackberry for their mobile platform. While there are applications like those from Trust Digital that will manage multiple device types, they require significant on-premise setup and expertise. Mobiso has the advantage of a cloud app, in leaving the care and feeding of the server and platform to someone else's employees.
As an individual you can try Mobiso for free to get a feel for how it works, and it has some accounting advantages for sole proprietors. It's big wins, though, come from fleet management in the enterprise. Let's hope it's just an early entry in a market segment that will get much more richly populated in 2010.