The iPhone turned 10 years old last month. It would not be a stretch to say that this groundbreaking device – along with its various smartphone cousins – transformed the way people communicate and accomplish things, making these devices nearly as essential to many of us as food and water.
The evidence of the iPhone/smartphone reign is all around us. But looking back, what can we say about how the iPhone altered the enterprise? There is the obvious answer – BYOD – but what other changes did it bring? We sought the perspectives of a handful of industry observers to assess where we are today because of the iPhone.
“The iPhone’s revolutionary usability and interface sparked a wave of smart devices permeating all aspects of our lives as consumers,” is the view of Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO of Adar IT, which offers cloud-based IT services.
He notes how the phone’s popularity as a personal device pressured corporate IT to get on board with it, and once that happened, the iPhone “revolutionized the speed of communication. Everyone became more connected, which accelerated the pace of business. Prior to the iPhone, it was not unreasonable to expect someone to return your voicemail or email within 24 hours.”
Contrast that to today, where we often give up on people if they haven’t responded in an hour or less.
Vladimirskiy also sees the iPhone as a critical first step toward the iPad and the resulting embrace of tablet computing. “The fact that the two devices share an iOS, support the same apps, and are connected seamlessly, was a huge contributor to making the iPad more than just another laptop,” he points out.
BYOD, tech on-the-go and more
Joanan Hernandez is a former IT telco engineer who is now founder and CEO of augmented reality development company Mollejuo. He says the iPhone brought two other major changes to the enterprise, in addition to the advantages of BYOD.
“While the BlackBerry platform was big, the iPhone made mobile corporate email ubiquitous. Now essentially every employee could be in touch with the corporate email while on the go,” Hernandez notes. He also points to the increased productivity enabled through instant messaging and apps that virtually automate tasks such as hailing a taxi or buying and using airline tickets.
“These are tasks that couldn’t be done the way we do them now without a mobile platform like the iPhone,” Hernandez says.
His guess – and he acknowledges he is being conservative – is that enterprise employees’ productivity has been boosted by at least 10 percent thanks to the features the iPhone, and other smartphones.
Power in the field
Yves Frinault, founder and CEO of FieldWire, maker of a mobile collaboration platform for the construction industry, says that the iPhone started a transformative trend in that field.
“About 65 percent of workers on-site now have smartphones, and essentially carry a computer that they can leverage to work smarter and more efficiently,” Frinault says. “The software on these phones reshape the way work is done on job sites by reducing and decentralizing management.”
Frinault also added that the ability to collaborate via their devices has meant time savings, increased transparency in projects, and greater work satisfaction for construction crews.
Jason Sinchak, CTO and founder of Sentegrity, a mobile security startup, says the iPhone’s greatest contribution was its ability to enable people to work anywhere and anytime. If that capability is managed well and in balance, he says, it enhances workers’ lives through greater flexibility and also benefits the enterprise through increased productivity.
On the negative side, though, he does point out that blending work and personal life on a single device has created significant security concerns, since “an enterprise now must place corporate data on a device they may not trust or one where they don’t control the security posture.” That is an area where we still haven’t quite found a solution.
If the iPhone had never happened…
But let’s consider an alternative past. What if the iPhone had never appeared in January 2007? How would its absence have affected where we are today?
Sentegrity’s Sinchak says he believes the BlackBerry and other smart phones would have filled the space somewhat, but with a downside: The greater variety of devices that might have developed would have been more challenging from a security standpoint. “With iPhone, at least an enterprise can have a large population of users that employ a relatively similar device,” he says.
Adar IT’s Vladimirskiy agrees. “The world would have likely looked similar since the Android universe of devices would have delivered similar benefits. However, I believe the transition would have taken much longer due to slower user adoption, without the revolutionary ease of use and stability of the iPhone,” he concludes.
Back to all blog posts