Half Personal, Half Business: Dual Smartphones

Whenever you give someone a smartphone the first thing they’ll probably do is download Angry Birds.  So how do you keep your work away from your personal usage?

Virtual Splitting

Virtual splitting is a method of partitioning a smartphone’s memory into two halves.  One half is person in which only the user has access.  The other half can be remotely accessed by the company that issued the phone.  This is in case the phone is lost or stolen; the company can remotely erase that partition.  A great example of a readymade solution is Blackberry’s Balance.

Problems Skirting Solutions

You might think that with the ability to just wipe out any compromising data is nuclear option that solves everything.  However, it can become more complicated than that.  For example, AirWatch is an app that allows you to remotely wipe certain data so as to not destroy personal stuff.  You might just want to delete spreadsheets and PowerPoint files, thinking photos should be off limits.

But, employees may use photos to take pictures of important documents.

I suppose you could just impose a strict policy of no personal use of smart devices with business information on it.  But then you’ll be fighting human nature.

IT Service Trends for 2013

Each year it sees like business processes, even for the smallest of enterprises, become more deeply enmeshed with technology. Here are three trends you’ll want to stay on top of this year.

1. Devices. Technology research firm Gartner predicts worldwide spending on devices—including PCs, smartphones, tablets and printers—will jump 6.3 percent to $66 billion in 2013, after only growing 2.9 percent last year. That’s especially significant since Gartner also points out the prices of devices like tablets are falling fast—it means people are going to be buying a whole lot of them. Smartphones are also on the cusp of overtaking PCs as the way most people get online. Questions about bring-your-own-device policies, company-owned computers and tablets, and accessibility of work systems from phones and tablets are bound to grow, and IT management companies will need to have answers.

2. The Cloud. Gartner also says the global market for public cloud services rose 20 percent in 2012 to $109 billion and it will grow to $206.6 billion in 2016. In particular, this looks like the moment for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), the type of cloud service that allows companies the maximum flexibility in designing their own systems on remote servers. IaaS will grow from faster than other sorts of cloud computing in coming years, according to Gartner. Migrating data and infrastructure to the cloud is going to be big business for IT service firms.

3. Big Data. This one is bound to be on trend lists for many years to come, but 2013 will surely see increasing focus on the management of the ever-growing mounds of information piling up on corporate servers. Already, major IT companies have whole divisions devoted to figuring out how to make sense of reams of customer transactions, social media interactions and security camera footage. These ideas are bound to trickle down and become something that businesses and IT firms of every size find themselves considering.

Getting Into Your Customers’ Pockets

Over the last few years it’s become inescapable. More and more people can’t seem to go for a half hour without pulling a phone out of their pocket and checking to see what’s new.

Practically every business wants to find a way to make their name show up on their customers’ little screens, but many are confused about how to do it. Do you need an app? A mobile optimized site? Must you tweet, or is Facebook enough?

The answers to these questions will be different for every sort of business. Twitter is a fantastic tool for anyone hawking impulse buys. The food truck that tweets its location and daily specials has become a staple of many urban areas. Facebook is a great place to engage people in a conversation about a new product you’re selling, and many small businesses find Foursquare is an excellent way to build up customer loyalty. For many companies, the best bet may be to throw the same information up on multiple platforms since it doesn’t take much more time and may reach different audiences.

Where social media is free, getting an IT consulting firm to build you an app or a mobile-optimized website can get pricey. The businesses that have the most use for their own apps are those, like banks, that customers need to interact with frequently. Mobile sites can be helpful if your regular site has a lot of complicated information that could get confusing on a tiny screen.

In general, though, there are some easy ways to make sure your main website looks good on a smartphone. It’s important to make sure words are actually text, not part of a graphic, especially key information like your address and phone number. Avoid flash, since a majority of mobile devices won’t play it. The best way to figure out if your site works for mobile devices is to try it out. But don’t just use your own iPhone. Borrow a friend’s android phone, your sister’s iPad and whatever else you can get your hands on and check how good your site looks on them all.

Once you’ve got a decent mobile site, and a social media presence to drive traffic to it, you can be confident that everywhere your customers go, you’re riding along in their pockets.

Nearly Half In U.S. Use Smartphones

If you’re starting to feel like everyone you know has an iPhone or a Droid within arm’s reach at all times, you’re not far off.  A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that nearly half of American adults, 46 percent, use a smartphone.

The survey, conducted last month, shows smartphones are now more popular than traditional cell phones, which are used by 41 percent of Americans. Adoption of smartphones has surged 11 percent since the previous Pew survey in May 2011.

The new numbers make it clearer than ever that every business needs to have an Internet presence that’s accessible to mobile devices, whether that means a mobile-friendly website, an app or just a great presence on social media. An IT consulting provider can help optimize websites and other offerings to best reach the smartphone-carrying audience.

Popular stereotypes notwithstanding, mobile devices aren’t just for the wealthy or the young. The Pew survey found use of smartphones growing among all demographics. Across almost all income levels, age groups and other categories, there was significant growth in smartphone adoption over the past nine months.

For example, use of smartphones by people between 45 and 54 years old grew from 28 to 44 percent, and use by those with household income levels below $30,000 grew from 22 to 34 percent.

Still, there is significant variation in adoption by different groups. A full 71 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 use a smartphone, as do 68 percent of those with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Only 13 percent of those 65 or older have a smartphone, and only 25 percent of people with less than a high school education have one.

The smartphone market is divided almost evenly between Androids and iPhones. Twenty percent of all cell phone owners have an Android device, while 19 percent have an iPhone. Another 6 percent have a Blackberry, 2 percent use a Windows system and 1 percent use a Palm device. The absence of a single operating system points to the need for managed IT services in ensuring that web offerings are compatible with different sorts of phones.

As the smartphone market has grown, the percentage of Americans using traditional cell phones has declined from 48 percent to 41 percent. The percentage of Americans without any cell phone also continues to decline, dropping to just 12 percent in February compared with 17 percent last May.

It’s worth noting that the Pew survey is just about smartphones and doesn’t account for the growing adoption of iPads and other tablet devices, a trend that makes the importance of IT support for mobile devices even more apparent.