Saying No to the Executive with an iPhone

Rob Enderle

Last week I helped out with a podcast focused on helping IT keep iPhones from connecting to their corporate networks.


The iPhone isn't designed to connect to a corporate network, and it clearly won't work seamlessly with Exchange, yet we all know that executives seldom take "no" for an answer.


We discussed and agreed on a series of ways to avoid the pain this device is likely to cause and suggested the following defenses:


Generation 1.0 Defense


People shouldn't buy generation 1.0 products, particularly those that haven't had a broad beta cycle (Apple has a bad history here).


IT avoids products in this class like the plague and generally has an official or unofficial policy against them. Cite the policy as a reason not to comply and require a level-C written approval for policy exceptions.


Point out that if the phone causes a network outage or major problem, the executive approving the exception will be at risk; the need to use a phone that is primarily designed as an entertainment device will likely be questioned.


You can also point out that a second-generation iPhone is due in October that will likely be better, and a third-generation phone, which may actually work with the corporate e-mail system, will probably be out early in the new year.


This should give the executive time to find something that is more appropriate for his use than an entertainment phone.


Provide Alternatives


There are a number of phones that likely are already approved for use with company assets. Make sure the list is updated for current products like the recent BlackBerries, Samsung, Motorola and HTC phones.


Often all the executive wants is something new and different, and if you can find something that actually works with your systems, you'll be vastly happier -- as will the executive.


Cell phones can be very personal and making sure executives have approved current-generation alternatives can go a long way to avoiding the pain of trying to get a device that wasn't designed to integrate working with your services.


Use Exchange Web Access


Exchange has decent access over the Web and the iPhone does have a fully featured browser. Problem is, Safari isn't known for being particularly good with Web standards. So you may get some initial breakage until the phone is patched (it could work fine though). In any case, this will largely mitigate the compatibility problems and shouldn't be any greater exposure than someone using a borrowed PC in a hotel or airport. (And given those machines may be running key loggers, the iPhone could, in this case, actually be safer).


While it is likely better to use a compliant product there are executives that don't take "NO" for an answer and, for them, this is likely the safest path.


Compliance Test


This is a good way to get yourself a company-paid iPhone.


Bring a device in for full testing and provide the results of the test to the executives that want the phone. Include the cost for making the phone compliant and suggest, given this is a personal device, they pay for this cost personally. Cost could run well into the thousands and, given this is really a personal device; it would be justified to charge them back for it.


You may eventually have to do this anyway if the phone remains popular but this process at least gives you breathing room and may allow you to hold off actually supporting these phones until the better 2nd or 3rd generation devices.


Just Say "NO"


Life isn't perfect and the company is not supposed to be run for any single executive. Granted if it's the CEO that's asking this path could be career limiting, but for everyone else just say no. The phone isn't designed for business, it is designed for entertainment and the company doesn't buy and support personal DVD players either.


Stand up and point out that costs and expenses are required to be connected to the business and that personal use of company resources is both against company policy and is as ethically wrong as not reporting options backdating or stealing company assets for personal use.


If someone wanted to connect their Portable Sony Playstation (PSP) or Apple PC, to the network you'd tell them "no" in a heartbeat. This is primarily a cell phone for entertainment and has no business using up corporate resources. If you really push them to justify the device they should realize this doesn't make good business sense and back down. Of course, when they don't, well that's the life of an IT manager, sometimes you do have to do the impossible.


Wrapping Up


Requests to support hot products happen a lot and are likely to accelerate. As much fun as supporting products like this would likely be, it is best to have a few responses in your tool kit to prevent you from having to expensively support devices that were never designed to work in your shop.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 22, 2007 8:13 AM Sam Sam  says:
Rob has a good point! Generation one products are a good Idea for the corporate Environment. Period! That goes for Microsoft products and Apple alike. The Executives in my office have already begun talking about purchasing the new iPhone. So I have already started my research, and push come to shove this devise is not an enterprise device. Apple themselves will not deny this. So as a point to those executives out there who are looking to purchase the iPhone. It will not work perfectly with your network. Currently it is an entertainment device and built to do just that... Entertain! And it is good at what it does.If you want a device that runs your corporate software, there are plenty of devices out there that will accomplish the task more efficiently and effectively then the iPhone. Reply
Jun 22, 2007 4:24 PM George George  says:
I hate to go straight to flaming, but you're an idiot. Almost every paragraph of your article is flawed.The one that really killed me was "Safari isnt known for being particularly good with Web standards." That statement is only true if you consider IE as the web standard. Safari is totally geared toward web standards and usually only trips up only on sites written just for IE. What joke of a statement. It is also bogus since you could easily test Safari against Exchange and prove that it works flawlessly for the very propose you suggest it might not work!You call yourself "forward looking" and then write an article about how to keep down new technology. Technology you have not even had the chance to work with.How about an article on how to properly test this technology when it becomes available? In stead you talk about a phone bringing down the corporate network. LOL! Reply
Jun 22, 2007 6:21 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
Whether we like it or not both Exchange and most corporate intranets are tested against an IE standard, even Firefox has had issues in this environment. Given how many issues the initial drop of Safari on Windows had, granted mostly security issues but broad IT testing with Safari is simply not done as a practice inside companies. The version on the phone won't even run Flash or Java which could create issues even beyond Exchange. So, as you point out, the very place Safari is likely to break is inside a corporation and this is the audience for this post. If this were another consumer oriented phone IT would have no trouble keeping it out. This isnt about new technology this is about letting in something that simply was not designed to do what IT needs in a supported product. Most of us have learned to avoid generation one products from anyone, and Apple does not have a stellar history here. So the combination of the fact this is the wrong phone for this purpose and a generation one product are legitimate reasons to keep it off a companys supported product list. Reply
Jun 25, 2007 12:02 PM Candace Candace  says:
"You can also point out that a second-generation iPhone is due in October that will likely be better, and a third-generation phone, which may actually work with the corporate e-mail system, will probably be out early in the new year.This should give the executive time to find something that is more appropriate for his use than an entertainment phone."If you were even remotely close to the IT expert you claim to be, you'd know that the iPhone WILL work with your corporate e-mail system. Try this, Rob:http://the.taoofmac.com/space/blog/2007/06/23 Reply
Jun 25, 2007 12:46 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
And after you are all done, you have a unique tunnel through security to connect an IMAP client to your phone. Im guessing youve never done this. You still wont have access to the company contact lists or calendars, and few if any of the Exchange specific utilities will work (how do you set an appointment for instance). Youd have to want the iPhone awfully bad to go through this effort. Right way is to ensure Outlook Web Access works or license Active Sync. I expect Apple will have this cooked by version 2 or 3. Reply
Aug 14, 2007 7:03 PM Scott Scott  says:
Ever the Microsoft stalwart, Rob has come through with a plateful of techniques to obstruct the adoption of this troublesome device from Apple.Yes, get it straight, we don't want to open the door by attempting to manage the expectations of the executive or try to let him know exactly what will work and what will not -- a better tactic is to scare him off completely! Talk about how it's a 1.0 product and could bring down the network, and it will be his fault! Of course that's malarkey, but he's an exec, what does he know!It's true that the iPhone works with open standards such as imap and the web, and that's the biggest reason to oppose it. Just think -- what would happen if an executive started trying out free replacements for Exchage's calendering and appointments? What if he starts using gmail and notices that he isn't running out of space all the time like he does on the corporate server? Pretty soon he might question the need for Exchange licenses and start talking about saving money by replacing Exchange with something (gasp!) free! Clearly this needs to be nipped in the bud.Rob, keep fighting the good fight. Us MSCE's are counting on you! Reply
Sep 7, 2007 8:06 AM James Lawrence James Lawrence  says:
My Goodness, nothing like an open mind and a forward view of the technology world, is there?Advising IT professionals to threaten their executive team (real smart advice there Rob) with thousands of dollars of personal costs, or worse, the reputation for bringing down the whole corporate network (yeah, right) with a newfangled (ohmygosh!!) -phone-.After it brings down the whole corporate network, in a jiffy no doubt, it may be put on the Air Forces list of weaponry of last resort in an all out war. What a device, that iPhone.I shudder to think what next will arrive in the Apple Stores and threaten earthly civilization, or should I say, your little IT Empire.You sound like Kevin Miller, IT administrator at Duke University who was blaming (damning) the iPhone for bringing down the school network .. of that he was CERTAIN too, that is, until some sound and smart IT administrators and technicians found out it was actually the Cisco network programming that needed some fixing (gasp), and the iPhone had no part at all in the mess.("I dont believe its a Cisco problem in any way, shape, or form." - Kevin Miller before he was proven completely upside down wrong by none other than Cisco technicians and his own IT staff)You show little respect for the executive team members that you are supposed to serve. Your recommendation of IT personell issuing threats to their corporate Executive Team and/or CEO who is interested in an extensively researched and developed communication product that could be quite useful to improve communications, save time and contribute to corporate growth, properly implemented, is yesterday thinking from the '80's.Time for the farm Grandpa. Your view of the world appears to be confined to the rear view mirror now.Bye bye, enjoy the sunsets, don't forget to eat your prunes, and believe me we're not going to miss you one little bit. Reply
Nov 26, 2007 4:49 PM Mobile Shop 1 Limited Mobile Shop 1 Limited  says:
Hi Gays,We are Accredited wholesller based in Uk, Greater London, We sell all electronics products, such as Mobile Phones, Ipods, Apple Iphones, PS3, PSP, PS2, Xbox 360, Nintendo Will, Notebook/Laptops, MP3/MP4, GPS, PDA Phones, Desktop Computers, LCD Monitor, LCD TVs and Plasma Tv.If any body are interested in all this above products, you can conatct us via Email or via our Website.Email: mobileshopltd1@live.comWebsite: http://mobileshop1ltd.page.tlPhone #: +447045707741I await to receive any Quaot from Buyers or any reseller.ThanksIan Anderson. Reply
Dec 31, 2007 9:02 AM elder norm elder norm  says:
Mr. Enderle,I do not know if I should be scared or surprised by your answer. !! I totally understand the need to be business cost minded about IT decisions, but the approach here seems really one minded. Are you really hateful of Apple or just scared about any new technology??Now I realize that this article was printed in June as the iPhone first came out. And any new technology should be fully evaluated before you jump in and use it, but really. What an odd ball approach. Its December and several companies have found the iPhone so well suited for them that they have actually revised their software to better use the web and e-mail functions of the iPhone. Several companies now have services which help a companies systems interconnect with the iPhone. Life moves forward. If one's company does not, it usually dies. Are you telling IT to help its company die??? You know, bury your head in the sand and hope life never changes? en. Reply

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