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Which mobile devices should replace Blackberrys in the workplace?

Which mobile devices should replace Blackberrys in the workplace?

Blackberry has fallen out of favour with consumers and the once popular devices and platform have failed to keep up with technological advances in the mobile device arena in recent years, resulting in a huge decline in the company’s stock price and multiple changes of CEO in the past several years, with each failing to turn around the company’s dire fortunes. With new devices failing to gain any momentum, Blackberry’s last hopes lie in the corporate market where a number of large organisations still rely on Blackberry Enterprise Server and Blackberry handsets to deliver a mobile infrastructure to colleagues so that they are able to work and access their email and calendar services remotely.

Android devices

As far as market share goes, Android devices have the majority stake. The Android operating system is produced by Google and is available on a number of devices from different manufacturers, with some running their own modified versions of the Android OS. This means that there is a nice selection of handsets to choose from, each with differing specifications and price points. There are a wide ranges of Android phones and tablets available from popular manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung, although Google also produces the Nexus devices.

The problem with providing Android devices to colleagues is that because it is an operating system being used by many different manufacturers, the result is a very segregated market with which manufacturers have interpreted the needs of consumers independently to produce a range of devices, each of which are very individual. At the same time manufacturers have also applied their own look to the operating system in some cases, resulting in a very different user experience between devices. This means that for corporates, selecting one device and sticking to it can be an issue when new devices are constantly entering the market; as a result, providing support could become an issue as IT support would need to be retrained on a regular basis so that they have the necessary skills to support the mobile device infrastructure.

iOS devices

Though the device market for iOS is effectively nil by being limited to the iPhone and iPad, Apple devices still prove to be a popular choice in the workplace due to the relatively simplicity and intuition that the platform offers. iOS also offers direct contact, calendar and mail syncing with most major business platforms such as Exchange and Google Apps.

If corporates were to continue to provide colleagues with a device for business use then this would likely be an iPhone because it guarantees uniformity across the board so that if one device fails, it can be easily replaced with a like for like device. It also makes it easier for IT teams to provide support because this way they only need to familiarise themselves with one types of device and one OS, whereas the Android device and OS market is incredibly segregated with each manufacturer providing their own device designs and interpretations of the OS design.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Some IT departments are now electing to no longer provide colleagues with business assigned mobile devices and are instead operating a ‘bring your own device’ policy with which colleagues are able to purchase a device of their choice and connect to their corporate accounts through this. However, such policies are only normally put in place with the key consideration of security and more often than not a security audit of a device is required before it can be used.

Introducing a BYOD scheme is one way in which you can improve employee motivation because it provides them with a greater sense of control over their working conditions and means that they can choose a device that they feel comfortable with using. It can also annoy some people having to constantly carry two devices round – one personal, one for work – and so by having a single device for both purposes, it simplifies things somewhat.

My conclusion with this would be implementing a ‘bring your own device’ policy can benefit businesses three-fold. Firstly, for the most part it would remove the need for the IT department to offer support because colleagues will likely choose a device that they are already using or are familiar with. Secondly, there’s no longer a need to bulk buy expensive mobile devices. And thirdly, the related expenses disappear, though it would be recommended to provide colleagues with a contribution towards the cost of their price plans and any initial outlay required for their chosen device, all within reason obviously.

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