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Apple iPhone X Highlights Enterprise Corporate-Liable vs. BYOD Conundrum

The consumption by enterprises of world-class phones has increased as the demand for the latest and greatest technology has shaped a monumental change in the workforce. The workforce has become mobile and the enterprise is now grappling with the cost of the latest and greatest hardware versus its ability to maintain current and functional technology – all while trying to balance how quickly to advance solutions to keep up with new technology. It’s the age-old question: what is the advantage? Finding that advantage requires a balance between checkbooks and talent – development talent, sales talent and so much more.

Apple owns the corporate-liable space in the United States. Recent reports from AOTMP show that 82 percent of corporate devices are Apple iOS, though many remain two to four generations behind the current model. This means the iPhone 5S – iPhone 7 dominates among enterprise users. And often, this is by design.

But every organization is already dealing with the iPhone 8 or iPhone X in some respect. That’s where I believe things get interesting for Apple – and why it might lose its standing as the corporate-owned leader. Being first-to-market with technology that clients cannot keep pace with is as dangerous as not coming to the market with a solution at all. Apple understands this, as its growth within the enterprise remains filled with adversity.

As Apple devices get more expensive and more complex, mobility management experts are having an easier time overseeing BYOD within the enterprise environment. This could lead to a full-scale tilt away from mass corporate purchases of Apple devices. While Apple has produced management tools to simplify the deployment and security of corporate managed devices with Apple DEP and third-party partnerships, Android has released a cross-manufacturer deployment management tool in Android for Work. This delivers a more seamless deployment solution with simplified APIs across a range of desirable manufacturers beyond Samsung and the Samsung Knox solution.

The consumer market dictates so much of the noise we hear when a new device becomes available. There are mentions of the enterprise and some models are the subject of campaigns targeting the enterprise workforce. But what do enterprises relying on corporate-owned oversight do when a new device comes out and their users clamor for it?
A few will panic, some will plan, and many will wait.

Why the panic?

Generally, panicking companies are behind in deploying a full management solution for their mobile devices. It’s still the wild west and, often, users will dictate the adoption via shadow IT. When a new Apple device comes out, users will buy them on their own with a corporate credit card, expensing them as new technology purchases. Or mobility management professionals see a drastic uptick in “dropped,” “lost,” and “stolen” claims – an annual phenomenon known as “Apple season.”

Great! Now what? Is the enterprise’s EMM or MDM platform prepared for the changes in protocol for the new device? New control capabilities? Do mobility management experts even know users have a new device, or are users taking a roundabout approach to accessing corporate email and sensitive materials? Shadow IT can drive new innovations and create new user experiences. But left in the shadows, it can also risk the security of corporate data.

Therefore, if organizations plan for employee demand of the latest Apple device, how are they planning?

The enterprises that plan are often the ones that wait to deploy the latest device. These organizations are actively engaged in the changing market and are usually current with security software. No matter a company’s size, there are experts in this space to provide guidance and manage the various software and support requirements when you’re using a service. These enterprises have built an internal telecom/mobility/technology management Center of Excellence or relied on a solid provider to reduce mobility management headaches. They participate in beta programs with manufacturers and have controls via policy and user-request modules to dictate new devices’ accesses and permissions. They understand the value of the hardware they are using versus the increased value of the device coming to market. In fact, the value an enterprise can generate from these new devices comes not from the hardware, but from applications that make the most of the hardware’s capabilities. As such, these organizations aren’t necessarily adopting the latest and greatest device.

Take, as an example, a global pharmaceutical firm struggling to centralize control of new applications. This is creating risks in “managing look, feel, security, certification and refresh process,” the contact told me. To curb the problems, the firm is deploying an agile development team for its mobile applications.

Along those lines, the iPhone X’s updated capabilities are exciting. Apple is bringing some unique experiences, such as augmented reality, to users. But the question for corporate-liable enterprises is whether they can develop the applications and systems to leverage those capabilities. The answer, in many cases, is no. Internal application development efforts have traditionally remained months behind new device technologies, if not years.
That’s where planning can create issues. Teams need to work closely together to get where they need to be. I’ve seen enterprises build incredible consumer applications, only to be turned down by the internal security or mobile management team for installation on corporate-owned devices. Users were forced to operate with two phones just, so they could use their company’s apps.

Waiting to adopt the latest device can be a wise move, especially considering budget. As the representative from the global pharma company said, “Our recommendation to our board was neither the iPhone 8 or X gives significant advantage over the 7.” Ultimately the board opted to allow the iPhone 8, but not the X due to cost – for now. The pharma will likely be an iPhone X house by the end of the year, the source said.

However, waiting too long to adopt can hurt an unprepared organization. The latest and greatest often does not address an unmet need, but it will ultimately create problems for the underprepared development team. Organizations must practice caution when deciding to wait, as waiting too long can be as detrimental as launching too quickly. Apple will stop supporting the iPhone 5S, and likely the iPhone 6/6S, in the next 18 months.

Organizations still depending on this hardware will be tapping into the $47.8 billion aftermarket for replacement devices and looking to find consistent, high-quality repair services. Additionally, taking on unsupported devices from the manufacturer creates an increased support burden for internal teams.

And if rumors are true, the iPhone 8 may be the last phone of its type as Apple moves to a more advanced hardware set under its new iPhone X model and design.

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