That trend is playing out among large enterprises, too. At
Good Technology, whose customers include the Fortune 100, 72 percent of
activations in Q2 and Q3 2013 were iOS devices.
Some of that adoption is because companies are providing
employees with iPads and iPhones, and in other cases it’s because of
bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Either way, if your organization doesn’t
already support iOS devices, it probably will soon.
So it’s worth looking at what other companies have learned. I
recently spoke with Jim Freeland, senior IT manager for enterprise mobility at Medtronic, about how his organization is
using and managing iOS devices, as well as the apps that run on them.
Roughly how many iOS
devices does Medtronic currently have? And are they all company-issue, or do
you have a BYOD policy?
Medtronic has been using iPhones and iPads since
mid-2010. iPads were purchased in April for a cardiac conference to allow
Medtronic personnel to showcase some product materials. We purchased
thousands of iPads over the next 18 months.
Our initial sales tools (apps) were built for the iPhone and
iPad throughout the fall of 2010, and [we] have been enhancing and adding to
our suite of apps ever since. We have a mix of company-issued and
personal iOS devices in place today via our allowance of BYOD. The number
of iOS devices used internally has grown significantly, but we do not currently
disclose our totals.
How has iOS evolved
over that time in terms of making it harder or easier for an enterprise to
support those devices? For example, Apple made a few changes to iOS over the
past couple of years to make it more enterprise-friendly in terms of device
management and security.
iOS as a platform has always been consumer focused, although
there are more and more enterprise features being introduced under the
hood. With Apple’s closed ecosystem, there are some things traditional IT
support will have a hard time dealing with. Things like:
- The inability to “remote
in” to the entire iOS device to support the user.
- Lack of a file system to
backup or fix apps (easily managed via Apple’s iCloud service, and sound
custom app development practices).
- User-generated Apple IDs
instead of “enterprise single sign on.”
- iCloud backup.
- A heavy mix of personal
apps / data on the devices compared to enterprise deployed apps makes
things difficult at times.
Enterprises leveraging mobile
device management (MDM) continue to walk a fine line in a BYOD setting with
what can and can’t be managed on a personal device. Device
wipe activities are always a sensitive topic when the device contains personal
photos, app data, etc.
There are, on the contrary, many great MDM features that
enterprises can exploit within the iOS environment to control the
devices. The iOS ecosystem makes it possible to secure apps with secure
development techniques and/or MDM controls. The mobile
application management (MAM) space continues to mature allowing enterprises
to focus security on apps rather than the entire iOS device.
Regarding internal use, mobile
apps developed and deployed through private app stores inside the enterprise,
Apple’s developer program provides some good controls, as well as some
burdensome constraints. These continue to evolve and change. One
example is the 365-day expiration of provisioning profiles for enterprise
signed mobile apps. Organizations with a large number of internal apps
used by a large set of users would endure mass annual app resignings and
deployments, burdening the users.
Recently, Apple modified its developer certificate/provisioning
profile expiration cadence to allow the enterprise a more graceful path to
stagger the required annual update for internal apps. Other new device
hardware features make the iOS platform more and more interesting for the
enterprise to develop for.
What advice would you
give to a CIO or technology manager who’s debating whether to start using iPads
and iPhones internally?
By purchasing these devices for your staff, or simply
implementing a BYOD program, you instantly obtain productivity gains through
users having access to their email, calendar and approved public or internal
apps. Extending some of their traditional work tasks to an iPhone or iPad
enables them to increase efficiency and timeliness when they don’t necessarily
have to boot up their laptop.
Conversely, the iOS platform is still not a replacement for
the laptop in the enterprise. iOS devices are very progressive with the
apps Apple and other vendors are developing to make them more and more of a
contribution devices. Meaning, you can create and edit more and more
content on an iOS device, but there are still limitations as it relates to that
contribution benefiting enterprise tasks. The iOS devices are sound
consumption tools and a great way to communicate with personnel, share content,
accomplish workflow and light editing tasks, etc.
The consumerization of IT demands organizations work with
these platforms. You can continue to invest in blocking and preventing
these tools from being used, pushing users to find covert means to leverage their
preferred devices on your network and with your data. Or, you can embrace
the iOS platform in a measured way, which allows you to expose specific lines
of business through the tools and make selective investments to respond to
consumer preferences while gaining efficiency and responsiveness from your