Do your employees need iPhones?


Date: 5 July 2010

My mother is a middle aged woman, constantly travelling and in contact with the office. Her employer provides her with a Blackberry, which she takes everywhere, along with her address book. That’s right, an analogue, paper, not-HD address book. Last time I was unfortunate enough to delve into her handbag I also found a satellite navigation device, thousands of little bits of paper with illegible scribbles on them, a calculator and a camera. She also takes her laptop with her just in case she decides to check her email or buy some ‘bargains’ on eBay. Making life easier The mobile my mother has now could comfortably replace everything except the lipstick and car keys in her handbag. I’ve tried to explain this many times, demonstrating how brilliant the technology is, but she’s just not interested. The same is true for many people. They like doing it their way and see no reason to change. A fear of change, the unknown, and good old fashioned stubbornness are causing her not to adopt this technology – even though the manufacturers tell us it would make her life much easier. Do people feel that way in your company? Would they use it? The word ‘trust’ comes up a lot. Many people just don’t trust new technologies. My mother chooses to spend hours on hold to call centres in India rather than bank online. She says she doesn’t ‘trust’ the internet and she would rather speak to a person on the phone. What does she think the person on the other end of the phone is doing? Carting around £50 notes in a wheelbarrow from account to account? So, if you gave your employees smart phones, would they use them? I sure would. I’d be able to synchronise my calendar, check emails on the go ... maybe even make the odd phone call. For someone like my mum, on the other hand, it would be a waste of money. She doesn’t even use the built in address book which mobiles have had since their conception. As a business, you have to weigh the cost of the technology against the time and effort you could save. Continued training will be required for some users (this costs time and money) - others will find using the technology comes as naturally as using a pen and paper. Security and trust Smart phones can mean added security risks. Staff might save passwords for the work network or for business applications. That means if someone was to steal the phone, they could potentially access confidential and sensitive information. “But you can password protect your phone” I hear you scream. My Mum has a post-it note stuck to her laptop with her password on it. I imagine many are the same. It seems people simply can’t be bothered with passwords. Further abuse of the company iPhone might come from those who are more familiar with it. There are thousands of applications and games available for smart phones. Will your employees’ productivity be affected by the temptation of games? Will they buy them on the company contract? In summary, every business is different. Whether smart phones are right for you depends on the people, the nature of the organisation and simply whether you need to stay constantly connected. If you have a busy, mobile workforce then issuing smart phones might make them much more productive. If everyone’s based in the office all the time then they’ll end up as little more than expensive toys. I’m certain of this; these devices aren’t going to go away. They will become more commonplace in the work and home environment and I think they will enhance the way we work and play, just as desktop computers have done already. The sooner we embrace the technology the sooner we can reap its benefits and spend more time doing less mundane, more productive and more fun tasks. My final thought; if you are in the market for a smart phone, make sure you research all your options. Apple isn’t the only one producing these little gems. Relevant links

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.