Forrester: iPhone enterprise-friendly after all

Some major corporations are beginning to issue their employees iPhones, and the result is a more contented workplace, according to a new report published by Forrester Research. While enterprises have expressed concern about securing and managing iPhones, Forrester notes that IT managers at Kraft Foods, Oracle and Amylin Pharmaceuticals have reported positive results: "The companies say that the benefits of iPhone over other mobile devices include a happier, more productive workforce and lower support costs," writes Forrester analyst Ted Schadler. The finding is even more surprising given that in December 2007, Forrester published "The iPhone Is Not Meant for Enterprises," a six-page report subtitled "The Top 10 Reasons Why We Recommend That IT Not Support It."

Forrester now offers four primary arguments to support why enterprises should embrace the iPhone:

1. Employees prefer them. "In this era of Technology Populism, where consumer IT is often better than enterprise IT, it sometimes just makes sense to give employees the freedom to choose the tools they want."
2. iPhones make mobile collaboration easier. "As anybody with experience on both iPhones and BlackBerry will tell you, the Internet feels natural on an iPhone and like a chore on a BlackBerry."
3. iPhone users require less hand-holding. "All three firms have set up wikis so that employees can support each other. ‘Our early adopters sometimes teach things we'd rather our iPhone users not know, but overall they provide better support than we can,' said one person we interviewed."
4. iPhones can save organizations money. "In at least one case, an iPhone adopter found that the data plans for previous mobile devices were more expensive than the consumer plans AT&T is offering for iPhones. This company was able to reset its baseline plan pricing 30 percent lower for all phones because it supported iPhone."

Forrester does maintain some caveats, however, citing the dearth of iPhone management tools and the absence of full support for VPN. It also lists several recommendations for corporations mulling iPhone adoption, suggesting they launch in stages, negotiate with AT&T and so forth.

For more on the Forrester report:
- read this Fortune article