IT managers irrelevant to enterprise mobility?

Australian telecommunication carrier Telstra Corp. Ltd. and Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry vendor Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) have a simple message for IT managers when it comes to making enterprise mobility purchasing decisions. You don’t count.

Such was the message delivered at the launch of Telstra’s White Paper on the state of the Australian enterprise mobility market this month as the two vendors outlined their vision for future mobility uptake.

Flanked by a panel including representatives from Brampton, Ont.-based Nortel Networks, Microsoft Corp., Penbro Systems and garbology franchise 1300 Rubbish, Telstra’s managing director for mobile sales and solutions (business and government), Murray Bergin, said corporate IT shops had missed the boat when it came to “tactical” mobility solutions offering quick-fix savings and fast ROI.

“When we launched BlackBerry two years ago, we got (told by IT we were launching) an out-of-date technology. We couldn’t get CIOs to listen. We had to go to the CEOs and the marketing folk…,” Bergin lamented, adding there was now a “push down” with CEOs demanding answers from IT departments “about wireless engineering”.

RIM’s Asia Pacific business unit director Paul Osmond joined Telstra’s sledging, saying IT departments were simply too slow when it came to integrating mobility.

“If you go through all the testing, by the time you do it there is an upgrade (with more compatibility issues)…and you never (deploy a solution). We go in at the CEO level. (CEOs) have the discretionary budget and they can force that down on the IT guys,” Osmond said.

Managing director of Penbro Wireless Solutions Neil Hymers, whose clients include Foxtel and 1300 Rubbish, said IT departments tried to make simple wireless solutions “a mission to Mars”.

“You can make (mobility) as complex as you like, which is generally what the IT department tries to do. Talking to the IT department is a big red flag,” Hymers said.

However Telstra’s Bergin conceded IT scepticism may have been vindicated in the past when carriers and vendors made the odd IT error of judgment.

“WAP is crap. It’s not a data network. You were paying 25 cents (per billable time unit). It wasn’t very bloody helpful anyway,” Bergin said — sounding just a little bit like a suspicious IT manager.

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