April 28, 2010, 4:31 PM — Smartphones and mobile devices are becoming a nightmare for IT shops to manage, with users carrying multiple types of phones with different operating systems and expecting access to e-mail, video-conferencing and various types of corporate applications.
Management was relatively simple when IT managers gave mobile employees a Dell Latitude laptop and a BlackBerry and told them "you're good to go," said Gartner wireless analyst Paul DeBeasi, who took part in an Interop Las Vegas panel discussion on key issues in wireless and mobile technology.
But now phones are becoming like mini-computers, and to complicate matters there are six major platforms: BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian, said Michael Miller, who is a writer on technology as well as senior vice president for technology strategy at Ziff Brothers Investments.
"Suddenly, you've got six mobile platforms out there and you're going to have to decide what you're going to support," Miller said.
Giving everyone e-mail is relatively easy, but customers are expecting access to all kinds of enterprise applications.
"What isn't easy is taking your corporate applications and suddenly running them on all these platforms," Miller said. "We're all used to writing applications that run on Windows desktops and laptops. What happens in a world that expects connectivity in their pocket at all time? You're not getting a device like [an iPhone or BlackBerry] that runs Windows 7, nor would you want one."
As the mobile world becomes more complicated, enterprises can't just decide to support one device, said Lisa Phifer, president of Core Competence, a business technology consulting firm. An enterprise may focus more of its efforts on a few strategic platforms and applications, but IT executives will find it difficult to block certain mobile devices.