Scottish law firm Maclay Murray and Spens LLP (MMS) has implemented mobile software provider MobileIron's mobile device management platform to enable it to roll out iPads to boost productivity.
Crawford Hawley-Groat, director of IT at MMS, told Computing that the firm had provided its employees with company-owned BlackBerry devices, but came under increasing pressure from employees who wanted to use Android and Apple devices at work.
"There was an increase in usage of smartphones and employees did not want to carry around a work mobile in addition to a personal device, so we had to look into how we could support tablets and smartphones from a corporate perspective, especially as we thought that this would give our employees added functionality," he said.
Hawley-Groat said that the firm spoke to a number of companies who could provide a secure platform for mobile devices.
"We initially trialled Good Technology's solution but we found that there was a 4,000 character limit when sending emails through the platform. One of our employees lost a huge amount of work because of this, and we ended the trial after that.
"We then decided that rather than going through software like Good Technology's where everything is on one application, we wanted to find a way to allow the device to be used normally but have control over the device in the same way that we had control over BlackBerrys," he said.
In September 2011, MMS's external partner Bridgeway Security Solutions set up MobileIron on its infrastructure as a pilot for MMS.
"We could run some of the MobileIron functionality just to see if it would fit into our requirements," Hawley-Groat said.
After buying the appropriate licences for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programme, MMS carried out a bigger pilot internally in October 2011, and because it fitted in with all of the firm's requirements, MMS purchased the MobileIron solution in January 2012.
Hawley-Groat said that MobileIron software took external consultants two days to install after which the firm trialled the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet using the solution.
"We trialled the PlayBook but it did not support our secure internal emails. We use PGP encryption for sensitive emails and we had thought that because BlackBerrys supported this, the PlayBook would also support this, but it wasn't the case. This led us to look into Apple and Android devices," he said.
The firm has rolled out 26 iPads or iPhones to staff and 50 personal devices are also connected to the MobileIron platform.
He said that using Apple and Android tablets instead of BlackBerry smartphones had many working benefits.
"Employees prefer to use the bigger screens and keyboards. Now in all of our internal partnership meetings the paperwork is provided electronically to board members and senior committee members with a view to only providing electronic forms.
"Although all of our paperwork is not electronic yet, this has led to a significant reduction in paper documents that are printed and bound," he said.
Hawley-Groat said the BYOD programme is cost-neutral for the firm because the monthly rental for BlackBerry is higher than an iPhone or Android device and the monthly cost reduction for the data service in moving from BlackBerry offsets the cost of the MobileIron licences.
"I think for us it's cost-neutral, we run devices over a 24-month contract. An iPad is more expensive to buy than a BlackBerry but we wouldn't have to pay a monthly cost.
"Rather than purchasing licences on an annual basis, we bought perpetual licences so the cost for users for either a corporate user or the employee is around £70 each. For us, the £70 for an employee is significantly cheaper than buying hardware for them on a contract," he said.