The increasing range of mobile devices and platforms used by employees for business is becoming a headache to manage and support for UK IT chiefs.

Two-thirds of’s CIO Jury user panel cited reasons ranging from the proliferation of devices to accessing corporate systems and the potential security risk as the main cause of the mobile headache, with just a third saying it isn’t a problem.

Kevin Lloyd, CTO at Barclays, said the growing number of devices used, integration with mail systems and lifecycle management are all issues.

“The seemingly low cost of acquisition hides the true cost of ownership,” he said.

Simon Norbury, head of ICT at Westminster City Council, said one of the problems is that mobile phones and PDAs are often bought without adhering to the usual central corporate procurement procedures.

“There are different requirements for different devices and the belief that you can just buy a BlackBerry and somehow it is automatically connected to the corporate email system,” he said.

Graham Yellowley, director of technology at Mitsubishi Securities International, said the administrative burden is huge even though his company has restricted the range of supported devices to a handful and disabled picture messaging on camera phones.

“With BlackBerrys starting to sprout everywhere the burden increases. The holy grail of a unified device that does everything at a low price is some way off yet,” he said.

Security was the other main worry cited by several on the CIO Jury panel and Crispin O’Connell, head of ICT at Cardiff City Council said the devices are banned from accessing the council’s corporate systems as a result.

Steve Anderson, European IT partner at property consultancy Davis Langdon, said: “Because many of them are not company devices this complicates things tenfold – who is responsible for data security on a personal device – the company or the individual?”

Other IT bosses said the benefits of the mobile devices more than outweighed any of the security or support issues.

Frank Coyle, IT director at John Menzies Distribution, said: “IT has been the focus of fashion changes, fads and ‘gizmos’ for a very long time. Managing the different operating systems, manufacturers and potential abuse of mobile technology all comes with the territory and, to be honest, will be taken in our stride.”

Mark Foulsham, head of IT at insurance company eSure, said it is essential for IT to support the use of all devices in the modern business environment.

“The alternative of course is that lack of support will lead to staff using their own devices, which is a far worse scenario and introduces greater corporate risk than a support headache for IT,” he said.

Davesh Shukla, head of IS and telecoms at London City Airport, said IT departments simply need to enforce the same standardisation for corporate mobile devices that they do for things like PCs.

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Steve Anderson, European IT partner, Davis Langdon
Frank Coyle, IT director, John Menzies Distribution
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Mark Foulsham, head of IT, eSure
Mark Lichtenhein, director of IT and new media, PGA European Tour
Kevin Lloyd, CTO, Barclays
Simon Norbury, head of ICT, Westminster City Council
Crispin O’Connell, head of ICT, Cardiff City Council
Peter Pedersen, CTO, Blue Square
Davesh Shukla, head of IS and telecoms, London City Airport
Graham Yellowley, director of technology, Mitsubishi Securities International
David Yu, CTO, Betfair

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