Guidelines For Implementing PDA Solutions

Consider ROI, security and corporate policy.

What is the recommended route to the beckoning mobile-computing future? Start by focusing on the areas of highest ROI, says Dan Glessner, director for enterprise marketing, Palm Inc. Choose a platform that's open and flexible and that won't limit your choices in any important way. Make sure that it is compatible with your existing infrastructure. He says 60% of the largest companies in the U.S. have defined standards for handhelds, usually giving users a choice of two brands. Security issues need to be resolved. In terms of importance, put security among the top three action items, says New York-based Rudy Bakalov, PricewaterhouseCoopers' security manager. "This is especially important since in many organizations PDAs tend to be IT's unwanted child. Of course, this flies in the face of the reality that everybody's using them." Bakalov says that among his clients it is still rare to have policies that outline exactly how and what devices are to be acquired; who is going to be entitled to one; the kind of applications; what kind of data is to be stored; and whether out-of-the box security is adequate. Factors complicating the security issue are the ease of PDA theft and the risks posed by devices that are connected wirelessly to enterprise systems. Bakalov expects a continuation of the rapid growth of wireless in mobile computing. He offers a tip: "If corporate guidelines comprehensively recognize and support mobile devices, users will be more likely to comply with security rules." Bakalov recommends training users, even on routine security procedures. Also, consider security applications available from companies such as Certicom Corp., Hayward, Calif., or RSA Security Inc., Bedford, Mass. And remember, simple procedures such as regular backups help assure data integrity. "Anticipate hacker attacks directed against applications, especially those that are poorly written," he warns. "There is a tendency to make a false assumption that being behind the firewall can assure attack protection." And above all, "Lay down policies, plans, and a strategy to enable the continuing scalability of any PDA solutions," says Kevin S. Havre, technical market manager for handheld products, Hewlett-Packard. "When planning a PDA strategy, remember that an important part of any future success is the planning done by the technology platform vendor."

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