The Yin & Yang of Smartphones
As the future of work takes hold, knowledge workers will be able to combine their professional and personal phones on one device, and remain fully compliant with corporate guidelines. Here's how.
We have rapidly reached a point where consumers can no longer imagine life before smartphones. New issues are quickly arising, as enterprises struggle to figure out how they can best leverage end-user willingness to purchase a powerful smartphone on their own dime. That's not a bad thing in these cash-constrained times, as such purchases are traditionally treated as capital expenses that hit IT's mobile budget line.
In mobile vernacular, it's the distinction between a corporate-liable phone – one the employer purchases and assumes all costs – vs. a personally-liable phone. In the personally-liable instance, an employee gets to decide which phone she buys, uses and gets partially reimbursed for on a monthly basis by her employer.
This is how Apple's iPhone1 initially snuck into the enterprise, way before it received an official corporate blessing. Ironically, this is also how the BlackBerry2 first entered the corporate world a decade earlier through the backdoor bypassing traditional enterprise IT rules and policies. Now that the crack in the dam has meaningfully grown, IT departments are trying to strike a balance between maintaining hardsought (and necessary) security measures, while also being flexible and agile enough to support employee desire to “BYOM” (bring your own mobile) and get solid use from their devices in the workplace. It's the proverbial line in the sand, where IT departments need to balance control and security with employee empowerment.
In this arena, a few technologies and concepts are rapidly emerging to solve this growing IT departmental need:
- Mobile Personas: These fall into two categories:
- Work home-screen: This includes the employee's work number, work-related services, apps and security. These functions should be paid for directly by employers via major advances in split billing.
- Personal home-screen: This includes the employee's mobile number, apps, games and “none-of-the-employer's-business” items. These functions should, of course, be paid for by the employee.
- Platform Virtualization: In the PC world, the emergence of virtual machines (VMs) and “hypervisors” has allowed Apple Macs to break into the enterprise. Still many enterprises don't officially support Apple desktops and laptops. Through VMs, Macintoshes can run mainstream PC applications, thereby continuing their rapid ascent in the enterprise. VMware's Fusion and Parallels are hypervisors that allow individuals to port their full enterprise Windows XP/7 image directly into their Macs. This same concept is now on track to be extended into the emerging mobile virtualization environment. There are two types of hypervisors:
- Type 1 Hypervisor: Chip-level, most secure.
- Type 2 Hypervisor: Application-level.
Imagine an enterprise instance of Android that is fully managed, controlled and paid for by your employer that co-exists with an employee's personal instance of Android. More controversially speaking, imagine running an instance of BlackBerry inside your Android or iPhone! (That'll be the day!)
The lines between personal life and work will continue to blur. For some (those who love their work), this new-found seamlessness will be delightful. For others (those who view work as something that just pays their bills), well then, they might view this development as something their company provides to make it easier to work, regardless of time and location, extending an already long work day. Companies are actively trying to find the new equivalent to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) in a non-BlackBerry-dominated smartphone workforce. It's one thing for IT to seek the same degree of security as enabled by BES on BlackBerrys, for example, but to expect the same amount of control on an iPhone or a Droid3 is to take all the “fun” out of these devices. This can undermine end-user rationale for choosing his or her own phone in the first place. After all, a BlackBerry can actually be a decent “fun” phone; the only problem is that IT typically puts stringent controls in place to prevent the device from being so. In some cases, this causes end users to steer clear of BlackBerrys.
As a result, IT departments will need to redefine their control expectations of end-user experiences beyond 100% full oversight. New technologies are steadily emerging to enable lots of control, while still allowing for end-user preference and diversity to be supported in a secure and manageable manner.
The pace of development in this area can't keep up with enterprise customer demand as smartphone adoption continues to rapidly accelerate. Be on the lookout for the smartphone to become the engine that will drive future desk phone experiences and then set the stage for an increasingly PC-optional workforce. A new ecosystem of docking stations is on the verge of transforming today's smartphone into tomorrow's superphone.
About the author: Humphrey Chen is an Executive Director at Verizon Wireless. He leads the company's New Technologies area within New Market Development. He also leads Verizon's 4G Venture Forum. Previously, Humphrey led the Unified Communications area for Avaya and prior to that worked in Microsoft's Real-Time Communications group, which became Microsoft's Unified Communications Group in Redmond, WA. Before his corporate life, Humphrey ran a venture capital-backed start-up and did a stint at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. He has an undergraduate degree from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Follow him on Twitter at @HumphreyC.
The views of the author are personal opinion and not intended to represent the official view of his employer.