When the Apple iPhone was released in 2007, CIOs and IT departments almost universally rejected it as a device that was not fit for business. Two years later, with the third generation of iPhone hardware now on the market, Microsoft Exchange support available, and an active ecosystem of third party applications, many CIOs are beginning to warm up to the iPhone.
On August 4, TechRepublic polled its group of U.S. IT leaders and asked, "Does your IT department support the iPhone as an approved device?" The jury, made up of the first 12 respondents, had seven IT chiefs who said "no" and five who said "yes."
TechRepublic's CIO Jury is based on the original CIO Jury concept developed by Silicon.com, where you can find lively opinions from IT leaders based in the UK.
Our CIO Jury in this case was:
- Brian Terry, Vice President of IT for Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union
- Chuck Musciano, CIO of Martin Marietta Materials
- Thomas Galbraith, Director of IT for US District Court So District of IL
- Jeff Relkin, Director of IT for Quadel
- Chuck Elliott, IT Director of Emory University School of Medicine
- Steve Shead, IT Director of Cafepress
- Michael Stoyanovich, CIO of Benesys
- Chris Brown, Vice President of Technology at Big Splash Web Design
- Matthew Metcalf, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating
- Gary Wolf, Director of IT for Free Methodist Church of North America
- Scott Lowe, CIO for Westminster College
- Adam Bertram, IT Director of McKendree Village
So, 42% of these CIOs now support the iPhone and many of them offered interesting commentary on why they do or don't allow the iPhone. In fact, we have comments from many other IT leaders in the 90-member panel, beyond just the 12 that made up the jury.
Representing the iPhone holdouts, Musciano said, "I am still not convinced that the iPhone is secure enough for enterprise deployment. The various vulnerabilities exposed in just the past week make me even less likely to consider the iPhone for the enterprise any time soon."
On the other side was Mike Wagner, CIO of Stone & Youngberg in San Francisco, who reported:
The iPhone is one of the most innovative and revolutionary end-user products developed in the last 5 years. Like most IT Departments, we boycotted the first release of the iPhone but the subsequent release that supported [Exchange] ActiveSync was a game changer for corporate IT. Over the last several years we have supported mobile OSes from Palm, Blackberry, and Microsoft. The support and training requirements for the iPhone are orders of magnitude less than the mobile OSes offered by competing vendors. Another big plus of supporting the iPhone is the general excitement and enthusiasm from the end users and a corresponding decrease in the perception that IT is a wet blanket that is an impediment to the use of consumer-friendly products. Overall, implementing and supporting the iPhone has been an incontrovertible win for the IT department and end users.
Below is an additional selection of comments from the IT leaders, divided into the "yes" and "no" voters.
- "It's actually been a great device for the IT group itself, used to remotely manage servers and other tools. The sales folks love it, and it has so far been less of a support issue than the other phones." (Edward Beck, Vice President of IT for Line 6, Inc.)
- "We have found that resistance is futile. The iPhone is the most popular handheld device available. It has the best mobile browser and our sysadmins say it is a great device for remote systems administration." (Ed Sefton, CIO of Commonwealth Financial Network)
- "Utilizing the iPhone for traveling executives has cut down on VPN support considerably. Executives don't need to VPN as much to conduct regular business operations." (Nicholas Dibble, CIO of BuyOnlineNow)
- "Why deny the undeniable. It is simply the best mobile platform available. It offers a cutting edge GUI that delivers a superior customer experience." (Michael Boyle, CIO of Allstate)
- "We only provide full support for the C level execs' Blackberries (3 total). For everyone else, we will allow them to sync a Blackberry or iPhone on a effort-as-available basis. As IT chief, I have an iPhone." (Bob Hickcox, Director of IT for Girl Scouts of MN and WI)
- "Yes, but as with all personally purchased handheld devices, support is limited. We will help users connect to our Exchange server, but if the device has problems, they're responsible for getting it fixed." (Jeanne DeVore, Head of IT for Chicago Shakespeare Theater)
- "Yes, in fact, it's our preferred device." (Scott Lowe, CIO for Westminster College) Also, see Scott's TechRepublic article Out with Treos, in with iPhones on why his organization recently adopted the iPhone.
- "The 3G iPhones are integrating well into our network. End users are very happy with the performance." (Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating)
- "Although we don't supply them as a standard offering, we will interface any privately purchased iPhones with our corporate systems." (Jeff Relkin, Director of IT for Quadel)
- "We still view the iPhone as a personal device, not a business device." (Kurt Schmidt, IT Director of Capital Credit Union)
- "iPhones are not supported because they are considered personal gadgets." (Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities)
- "For business purposes we have yet to see any advantage the iPhone has over Blackberry. Thus far Blackberry has been easier for us from a change management/helpdesk management perspective. Less change means less cost and that's a key driver for us in the current economic environment." (Jeff Cannon, CIO of Fire and Life Safety America)
- "Due to the ease of management that comes with using a BES, Blackberries are our only supported devices. We will show our users how to access email on their iPhones just like we do for Windows Mobile devices but after that, they're on their own." (Rob Paciorek, CIO of Access Intelligence, LLC)
- "I do not support it at this time. The only reason is because we're on an older version of Exchange. If I was more up-to-date, I would support it with tight security measures." (Donna Porter, Corporate Director of IT for Evans Hotels)
- "No, although that is because AT&T is not available here. There are some excellent medical apps for iPhones which are well worth exploring." (Jerry Horton, CIO of Bob Wilson Memorial Hospital in Ulysses, KS)
- "No, because we have had bad coverage from AT&T." (David Wilson, Director of IT for VectorCSP in Elizabeth City, NC)
- "Due to service problems with AT&T in our area it is not a viable option." (Joel Robertson, Director of IT for King College in Bristol, TN)
- "No. However, we are finding more and more of our users are buying and using the device without assistance from IT." (Chuck Elliott, IT Director for Emory University School of Medicine)
In June, Silicon.com asked its group of U.K IT chiefs if they planned to offer the iPhone as an official corporate device and only one out of twelve said "yes." Even though their question was a little bit different (since it focused on deploying the iPhone as an official corporate device), the comparison is interesting.
Would you like to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say in the hottest issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).