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How a Big Financial Services Firm Faced BYOD iPads

Tom Kaneshige | Jan. 24, 2013
With BYOD iPad security under control, financial services firm Blackstone looks toward tough challenges ahead, including the possibility of company-owned iPads and opening up its BYOD program to Android and Windows 8 devices.

We do have the benefit of spending a lot in the past on messengering documents around, printing books and Fedex-ing materials to our board members. For certain people, there is a clear iPad ROI. If you send four major Fedex [packages] a year to various places around the globe, you can pay for an iPad pretty quickly.

Are you going to crack that ROI this year?

Murphy: We looked at it quickly, hoping it would be extremely easy to justify. We found it wasn't a slam dunk, where you'd go to the hoop, get the funding and make it happen. So we de-prioritized it in favor of other more clear-cut projects. If we focused on it, I would give it a 50-50 chance of getting to justification.

I'd say the odds are pretty low because both those things would have to come to together.

With BYOD, you said you're an Apple-only shop. How much longer can you hold on to this position?

Murphy: I don't know, probably for a while at Blackstone.

Of course, the minute someone comes out with the latest, greatest thing that trumps Apple will probably be the point where we will start to succumb to some of those problems. The audience is very fickle. They'll dump you and move to the next cool thing if it solves use cases better than the predecessor.

We've purchased a number of other tablets, testing them to see how we feel about it. We want to stay a step ahead of our users. We've tried Microsoft Surface and feel the Surface Pro has a chance to be interesting because of the ability to run full Office. However, the usability in my view still isn't close to the iPad. Until [Microsoft] can skin that cat, I think we'll have relatively few problems.

Are you dreading the day a top executive comes to work with a new Android tablet?

Murphy: A little bit. I think the mobile device management companies and WatchDox are working on [support] across all different types of devices. We have put a few foundational pieces in place and can expand relatively easily.

The biggest change that we'll have to make at that point is to change the expectations of our users, in terms of support.

The main reasons we're Apple-only is: one, the lockdown nature of the Apple devices make us feel better about security. But I think we can get over that security hurdle. The bigger thing is the assumption of enterprise support. As we proliferate new devices, we'll need to change the culture in order to make that something we can support economically.

Right now, the amount we do for our users as it relates to mobile devices is vast. If we had to support 15 types of devices, we wouldn't have the staff to be able to handle it. If we change expectations to, "hey, listen, you're on your own," then it wouldn't be that bad technically to support them all.


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