Pensions and insurance giant Prudential UK is currently trialling IBM Lotus Notes Traveler software on the Apple iPhone as part of a wider evaluation of the smartphone’s suitability for roll out to its executives, sales team and other roles within its organisation.
Prudential currently uses RIM BlackBerry smartphones for mobile email and other applications, but has noticed many of its staff bringing iPhones into the office.
“Nobody in the organisation has an iPhone that we have provided them with, but several executives already have them,” Prudential UK messaging specialist, Neil Davis, told Computing. “We wanted to be one step ahead of the game and deliver innovation to the business in terms of the applications that can be used.”
The proof-of-concept project will continue for the next few months, and a decision about a wider, officially sanctioned iPhone rollout will be made at the end of the year.
Davis said that much of the pilot will involve extensive penetration testing by Prudential’s security people, which will include making sure business email and calendaring work properly on the device. The latest version of Lotus Notes Domino and Traveler is the first to offer native Notes messaging on the iPhone platform.
The Pru is also looking at tweaking two-factor authentication for Citrix Access Gateway, a portal that allows any user to view applications such as Notes and Microsoft Word running on hosted servers elsewhere, should the iPhone’s relatively small screen prove up to the job.
“I do not think we would replace the BlackBerry completely, as it is very secure and offers ease of administration, and there are some interesting discussions around non-business applications like iTunes,” said Davis. “But we want to say to people that they can have their own personal device as long as they agree to our terms and conditions.
“The technology is pretty slick and very easy to set up and get working. The business policies around it are more complicated though – such as will we allow it, where responsibility lies, and whether we can afford it, because iPhones are more expensive than other devices,” he added.
Should the Prudential get the go ahead for a wider iPhone rollout beyond its senior management, it is likely that the sales department will be the next to benefit.
“The iPhone has a nice software client in Salesforce.com, which is currently used by our sales department, and we are putting together a wider profile of all our users to find out what they do [with mobile applications] now and what they need to do in the future,” said Davis.