SMBs want the solutions to these fairly complex issues to be super easy, Rattos said.
"Ease of implementation is so huge. It has to be dead simple. Small businesses don't have time to fiddle around."
Rogers, Bell and Telus all have small business divisions specifically targeting Canadian small business customers. (Although Bell and Telus have both launched cloud-based services for business users, so far Rogers hasn't entered that particular space.)
Sensing that SMBs want to regain some control over workplace devices within the wild west BYOD landscape, mobile device makers are also tapping into the demand for mobile device management and security systems. They're either building those features directly into the smartphones, laptops and tablets they make, or partnering with providers who can supply those features as service add-ons.
To add extra security, configuration, application and management capabilities to its line of mobile business devices, Samsung has partnered with companies like Microsoft Corp., Sybase, Soti Inc., MobileIron , AirWatch and Trellia Networks Inc. (acquired last fall by Wyse Technology).
Although Apple Inc.'s iPad tablets sparked the BYOD movement when corporate managers started taking them to the office and on the road for work, Android devices are gaining ground in both the consumer and enterprise markets, said Matthew Ettrick, national B2B sales manager for Samsung Canada and the keynote presenter at Wednesday's event.
Recent studies predict the Android OS will be on 60 per cent of all smartphones by the end of this year and that it will be the top B2B smartphone operating system by 2015, Ettrick said. A key driver of Android's growing popularity is its open platform, he added. Unlike the closed Apple and BlackBerry operating systems, Android's open platform means thousands of apps (many of them free) have been developed and taken to market quickly for users. But there's also a downside, he said.
Android security concerns
"The major concern with Android is security (because) it's an open platform," Ettrick said. "IT managers are really weighing the cost/risk benefit."
Samsung has tried to address those security concerns by making all of its existing mobile business devices FIPS 140-2 certified, the highest rating granted by the U.S. government for encryption and other security features, Ettrick said.
Despite the potential security risks, many SMBs are embracing mobile devices not just because BYOD is an unstoppable force, but also because of the cost benefits. By the end of 2012, 20 per cent of companies say they will decrease the in-house IT assets they own, much of it due to employees providing their own devices for work, Ettrick said.
Looking ahead to future mobile trends, Ettrick said businesses appear to moving away from smartphones and more towards tablets. That's why Samsung introduced its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet hybrid with a splashy Super Bowl ad campaign in January. The device even comes with an electronic pen to add drawing and handwriting capabilities to the touch interface.
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