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Man talking on smartphone in server room

Importance of managing mobile devices: It's not just talk

In the early days of mobile computing (before the iPhone), I used to say that one day smart phones would be nothing more than enterprise clients, with all the associated power and inherent security risks. This was back when Palm, Hand Held and BlackBerry held sway, and personal digital assistants were only starting to evolve into smart phones.
Very few people believed that prediction, though one friend who worked in the Navy on the IT staff for a ship did, because he saw the security implications. He pointed out that in the old days of the Navy, sailors would go on leave and come back will all kinds of strange diseases that would need to be treated in the medical bay. Today, he said (around 2006), sailors go ashore and bring back all kinds of strange viruses and problems on their handheld phones, which needed to be treated by the IT department. But other than that one friend, I didn't really know anyone who thought that phones would become network clients, similar to desktop PCs.

Today of course, everyone knows how prolific smart phones are, and how much they’re becoming part of the enterprise, in public-sector agencies and elsewhere. Not only do they have powerful capabilities, but they easily log into networks via WiFi signals.

But I was still surprised by the results of the latest Experian survey. It found that Americans are on their phones an average of 58 minutes each day.

Surprisingly, talk time is only 26 percent of the total. The rest of the time the smart phones are being used to surf the Web, send text messages, check e-mail, use a social network or play games.

And although talking is still the No. 1 time-consuming application for smart phones, its lead is slipping. Texting is right behind at 20 percent, with social networking at 16 percent.

Back in the days of the personal digital assistant, adding voice capabilities was generally thought to be the "killer app" that everyone would use in the future. But now it's become almost a secondary concern.

The implications for government, especially those experimenting or implementing BYOD programs, are significant. Phones really do have to be considered enterprise clients, not phones that happen to be able to perform some computer functions. That means dual-factor authentication for network log in, mobile virus and spyware scanning and even disability and Section 508 concerns need to be addressed. Because, like it or not, smart phones are now coming to work every day, and they aren't just talk.

Posted by John Breeden II on Jun 04, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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