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IT groups eschew BYOD, issue company-owned tablets

John Cox | July 13, 2012
After several years of struggling to accommodate personally-owned smartphones, many corporate IT groups are taking the opposite tack with tablets: they're issuing corporate-owned iPads and Android tablets. And partly as a result, at least some are seeing a jump in costs for mobile end user support, redesigned custom applications, and device administration.

With a much smaller iPad deployment, Hawthorn Pharmaceuticals uses Fiberlink's Maas 360 software for provisioning and management. The software vendor routinely collects anonymous usage data from customers and shares with them the results, to identify mobile device trends and best practices, says Hawthorn's Director of Information Technology Clay Hilton.

Device management should be somewhat simpler with iOS 5, which added support finally for over-the-air firmware updates directly to the iPad. The last upgrade to Version 5.0 "was extremely painful," Hilton says. The small IT team made use of Fiberlink's Maas 360 software to create and manage configuration profiles and prepared and emailed to users detailed explanations, including screenshots, on how to upgrade to iOS 5. Even so, only half of them were able to do so; the rest of the upgrades had to be handled manually by the IT staff. Hilton expects to avoid all this labor when upgrading this fall to iOS 6.0.

Demanding more from mobile carriers

Enterprises are demanding more from their mobile carriers, as tablets roll out, according to Scott Snyder, president and chief strategy officer for Mobiquity, which specializes in technology services for enterprise mobile projects. "Tablets are on a completely different demand curve for data usage, compared to smartphones," he says.

Bayada negotiated with T-Mobile to minimize or sidestep completely overage charges for cellular data plans. More enterprise accounts are renegotiating data deals, and many are working out pooled plans, which gives more flexibility for employees who might use more or less than the individual monthly limit, according to Snyder. "Five gigabytes for $50 a month is a typical consumer plan," he notes. "But one HD video conference for one hour will take 1 gigabyte. Users with iPad 3's Retina Display will want high definition, but that will drive data usage and charges through the roof."

Another option is negotiating with carriers for Wi-Fi services, so tablet users can make use of Wi-Fi connections when available without cutting into monthly data plans. But Snyder says "right now, Wi-Fi is getting worse and worse, as you can see at an airport." Enterprises need to know what Wi-Fi services their carriers can offer, or support, and how well it performs.


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