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Gartner's current advice to IT shops in managing mobile devices is to consider setting up all or some of three different tiers of support -- platform, appliance and concierge. In platform support, IT offers full PC-like support for a device and the device is chosen by IT, and will be used typically in vertical applications.
With appliance-level support, IT supports a narrow set of applications on a mobile device, including server-based and Web-based application support on a wider set of pre-approved devices. Local applications are not supported.
With concierge-level support, IT provides hands-on support, mainly to knowledge workers, for non-supported devices or non-supported apps on a supported device. The costs for support, which can be generous, are charged back to the users under this approach.
"With the decline of RIM, the rise of Apple and iPads [has] caused BYOD to be top of mind for IT," Dulaney said. "Many companies still use RIM as a cornerstone of their mobile practice, but permit users to buy Android and Apple with restricted apps, sometimes requiring them only to be browser-based apps."
One example of the browser-based approach is at American National Insurance Company (ANICO), which announced Tuesday that it has worked with IBM and IBM partner Streebo to extend ANICO'S existing PC-based customer information to mobile devices including iPhones, iPads and BlackBerry and Android devices. Thousands of agents can use the mobile capability to search existing insurance policies and help customers sign up for insurance, Deanna Walton, assistant vice president of field systems for ANICO, said in an interview.
Using a Web-based approach was "the easier, quicker and right thing to do, and we didn't need to tap into the native device" to add a new application, Walton said. Down the road, she said ANICO might find the need to deploy native mobile apps used in the field by agents who handle sensitive data.
"If we go that way, we'd definitely need to look at the security aspect," she said. "Most agents are independent and we'd have to figure out how to handle the loss of a device."
From Dulaney's point-of-view, ANICO's mobile success is an exception in the current world of BYOD.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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