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Mobile Devices Part 2: It Ain't About the Business

I can't remember a time when IT decisions were being driven more by users' love of gadgets than is the case with today's smartphone landscape.

Yeah, I guess in the past you'd always have a user or two who wanted a specific Dell laptop because it had a new-fangled DVD burner, a bigger screen, or whatever. But for the most part, users' preferences could be easily accommodated by a corporate standard. Not so with smartphones.

I've never liked the term "PC" when it comes to business computers. It isn't your personal computer, it's the company's computer. Call it a CC or a BC (Business Computer), but it certainly isn't personal. I'm going to configure it, lock it down and do whatever else the business wants me to do with it. You'll take the model you're given, and you'll like it, because you didn't have to pay for it.

Try pulling that off with a smartphone.

Yes, we're getting away with that in the BlackBerry space. Research in Motion was the first to produce business-friendly smartphones, and in a lot of ways it's still doing the best job. But a phone is a bit more personal. Users are carrying it around outside of work, and a lot of them don't want to carry two or more devices. So they're asking to use their iPhones, or asking the company to buy them an Android handset or a Windows Phone 7 device. More and more businesses are finding it difficult -- or even impossible -- to keep those "unofficial" devices out, and plenty of companies are just letting users pick whatever device they want. Increasingly, the "business computer" argument is falling on deaf ears. It's like we live in a free society or something!

Some organizations will find it necessary to fight this trend, and to stick with a single, business-sanctioned device. There are obviously industries and organizations where that makes sense. Others, feeling the pressure form their users to offer cooler gadgets, will decide to open the field a bit and see what happens. It is, if nothing else, an interesting time, as the concept of the "Business Phone" gives way a bit.

What are the policies in your organization? What's coming in your future? Will you stick with a standard, or let users choose? Or do you plan to just stay out of the smartphone market entirely and rely on your BCs to handle your users' official computing needs?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below or reach me at

Posted by Don Jones on 10/11/2011 at 1:14 PM


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