Just in case you have not been paying attention to every little nuance in the world of mobile computing, things are pretty chaotic.
While there's not much an IT organization today can do about the causes of this chaos, there are some steps they should be taking to insulate themselves from it.
Today, most smartphones are managed as service apart from desktop computing because most of these devices are tied to a carrier network. But now we have devices such as the Apple iPad that look much like a notebook PC, but that also come with a carrier contract.
And just to make things more interesting, carriers such as AT&T are trying to eliminate unlimited data plans. The wisdom of this is debatable as it creates an opportunity for other carriers to promote rival devices with unlimited data plans. But in the meantime, IT organizations using iPhones and iPads not only have to manage the devices, they also have to determine which plan best suits each class of users.
According to Julie Palen, senior vice president for mobile device management solutions for Tangoe, it won't be long before we see more integration between the service desks for smartphones and the traditional PC help desk. That convergence will bring a greater appreciation for the fact that managing mobility not only means managing devices, but also the carriers.
Ahmed Datoo, vice president of Zenprise, adds that it's already pretty clear that the battle to maintain a smartphone standard inside the enterprise has already been lost. In fact, a recent study conducted by Aberdeen Group on behalf of Zenprise found there are now eight to nine viable mobile computing devices being brought into the enterprise by employees, and costs per employee for managing those devices can reach as high as $588 when no management system is in place. Worse yet, Datoo notes these devices represent a major security risk when left unmanaged because the theft of one device can compromise an entire company. Most recently, Zenprise added support for the Apple iPad and gave IT organizations the abilty to remotely take control of a smartphone to fix a problem.
Undoubtedly, smartphones and tablets will challenge traditional notions about IT systems management. It will be interesting to see how vendors and IT organizations meet that challenge, but obviously mobile mania is here to stay.