With a few small exceptions, cell phones and PDAs have been isolated from the viruses, Trojan horses, and other such problems that plague PCs. Except for the occasional Palm desktop installation, most support techs haven’t had to support these devices.

But according to Gartner analyst George Weiss, the time is coming when supporting mobile devices will become IT’s responsibility.

The questions I’m throwing out for discussion are: Should you? Will you?

Support seems inevitable
According to Weiss, most IT divisions are hesitant to step up to the plate.

“For the most part, I’d say the IT professionals are trying to ignore the intelligent devices and hope they go away,” Weiss said. “We’re starting to see people having to support PDAs and cell phones and things like that, even though they really don’t want to.”

But Weiss predicts support of mobile devices will mirror what happened with PCs. Individual business units will invest in the technology and force IT to support it.

“They will be told by some regional sales VP, ‘I’ve built a whole system around this; you’re telling me you’re not going to support it. I’ll tell you what I’ll do: Either you support it or I’m going to hire someone to support it and I’m going to carve that person’s salary and benefits out of my contribution to your budget,’” said Weiss. “And that’s starting to happen, by the way.”

What IT can look forward to
These devices won’t be cheap or easy to support. It may cost more than $2,500 per year to maintain them at a standard comparable to a workstation, according to Gartner’s report “Nine smart ways to improve mobile network security.”

Attacks on these devices are also on the rise as smart phones and PDAs attract the attention of malicious hackers. Because most phones in the United States are only used for calling, we’ve been relatively immune to cell phone attacks. However, smart phones in Europe and Japan are already being targeted. In Europe, the short message service on mobile phones was used to transmit code that crashed the phone until the message was deleted from the carrier’s server, according to a recent Associated Press article.

It’s your call

What will you say when you’re asked to support these devices? Are you making plans to support mobile phones and PDAs already? Or is this an unfair burden to place on already overtasked IT divisions? Join our discussion by posting a response to this article.