Though Apple continues to be coy regarding business-minded tweaks to the next iPhone, slated for unveiling next week, enterprise users have plans of their own: They want the iPhone--even if the IT department's still a bit weary.
In light of the expected release of Apple's second-generation iPhone at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference next week in San Francisco, we asked a group of CIOs and IT directors about the features that they most want to see in the new device to help make the smartphone more "enterprise friendly."
Not surprisingly, 3G support and internal GPS made most of their lists, but at this point these features are practically a given -- AT&T's CEO said months ago that a 3G iPhone is coming this year and various reports claim GPS is all but confirmed.
Not all of these IT executives are iPhone users themselves; some have sets of employees using the smartphone. Each one has kept a close eye on the device since its release nearly a year ago. You may've heard some of their sentiments before, but other desired iPhone changes just might surprise you.
(Note: Some of the CIOS we spoke with mentioned the fact that iPhone's virtual keyboard could be a turnoff to "power users," but we decided to leave this fact out for two reasons: 1) We've come to believe that whether or not you're more effective on a physical keyboard or touch screen is largely dependent on preference, and 2) we simply don't see Apple releasing an iPhone with a physical keyboard any time soon.)
Most Wanted: Tighter Security, Remote Management
Today, threats associated with remote workers and mobile devices are keeping more and more IT staffers up at night, according to new research, so it's no shocker that the CIOs we spoke with cited security as their number one concern regarding enterprise iPhone use.
Markus Hill, VP of Technology with Rodgers Builders, a construction contracting firm, says security and compliance are his biggest worries regarding iPhone use in the enterprise.
"My biggest concern about using the iPhone for business is drawing the line between business and personal use," Hill says. "It is such a convenient device compliance issues could be a major problem."
Hill cites the BlackBerry Enterprise Server's ability to remotely enforce IT policies on users' devices as one of RIM's major strengths in the business space.
"The iPhone does not have a central management mechanism, and that is a very big concern," Hill says.
Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits CIO Tim Davis Concurs: "Central IT needs to be able to remotely troubleshoot issues and brick devices if they're lost or stolen."
Keith Brooks, CIO of Vanessa Brooks, a firm that provides various services to companies with IBM Lotus software and infrastructure, also think the iPhone's security is lacking, at least from an enterprise perspective, and suggests that Apple create its own BES competitor--a Mac iPhone Server (MIS), if you will.
Brooks says that if such a server were to be introduced, it could pave the way for acceptance of the iPhone within tightly controlled organizations.