iPhone 5 in the enterprise: Pain or gain?

Three IT execs say they're prepared for Apple's new LTE smartphone (see video below)

If the new iPhone 5 with LTE wireless sells as well as analysts predict, its impact on IT shops already wrestling with the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend could be dramatic.

Some analysts predict higher cellular network data costs borne by corporations and greater security risks with the new iPhone 5, which Apple unveiled today.

On the other hand, three IT managers said they believe the iPhone 5 will be manageable from a security and wireless data service cost aspect. One CIO said it will probably be a boon to worker productivity.

"Business runs today in real time, and workers want to do things fast, so from that perspective, the iPhone 5's LTE can provide that real-time capability," said SAP AG CIO Oliver Bussmann in an interview minutes after the iPhone 5 was announced. "The future is a mobile one, and we're constantly looking at any desktop app that we can move to mobile. One of my responsibilities as CIO is to enable a new user experience when possible."

Bussmann said he supports 60,000 workers globally, including more than 40,000 smartphones and tablets that are managed through SAP's Sybase Afaria Mobile Device Management tool, which SAP also sells to other corporations. Afaria can also be used to provide telecom expense management so that Bussmann gets automated warnings when data usage thresholds are exceeded.

SAP, like many large corporations, also negotiates flat data rates with wireless carriers to keep down data costs, Bussmann said.

He estimated a large number of SAP's 13,000 existing iPhone users will want to move to the iPhone 5, but workers have the option of testing out Android devices such as the Galaxy S III, too. SAP creates about 100 different mobile apps for enterprises, many of them used internally.

Terex, a global manufacturing company with 1,000 smartphone users, already supports the iPhone and Android phones under a BYOD framework. "The iPhone 5 won't change our thinking," said Terex CIO Greg Fell, in an interview. "We'll keep buying them like before. People will be happy with the LTE support."

Terex, like SAP, has negotiated data rates with carriers, making concerns about a data usage explosion from the iPhone 5 less of a worry, Fell said.

Alex Yohn, assistant direct of technology for West Virginia University, said some of the college's 30,000 students in Morgantown, W.Va., have talked about wanting to buy an iPhone 5. But he said that the area is not served yet by LTE, making that a less important feature. About 40% of the 450 staff members in IT jobs use smartphones, he said.

Yohn said iOS 6 and iPhone 5 don't provide enough software and hardware changes over earlier models to cause support concerns for his staff. Many users on campus rely on Wi-Fi, which could take the brunt of more data traffic from the iPhone 5 or other new smartphones. Even so, Yohn said the university is prepared.

"With the influx of new devices, we're going to batten down the hatches and hope things go well, but we're not anticipating massively changing our network and we don't expect data traffic at any levels to hurt our network," Yohn said in an interview.

Students on campus are migrating to using Google mail with native device clients "which lessens our worry that any new smartphone device will cause any kind of infrastructure impact," he said.

Despite those low-key expectations, some analysts said the iPhone 5 could cause disruptions, especially if it sells in the numbers some experts are predicting. Most agree the re-designed iPhone 5, with its larger 4-in. display, faster processor, better optics and LTE, will be popular, with one analyst at PiperJaffray predicting it will sell 10 million units by the end of September.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 begin Friday; it goes on sale Sept. 21, Apple said.

Keith Shaw and Ken Mingis discuss the features of Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone, and whether the larger screen, 4G LTE network and other features will excite the legions of Apple fans.

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