iPhone in Business

University of Ulster

“We wanted one simple, reliable mobile device that supports a plethora of business applications. The combined functionalities of iPhone — telephony, email, calendaring and more — make it very attractive.”

Andrew Trimble, Director of Information Services, University of Ulster

Transforming IT with iPhone

The University of Ulster is much more than the largest university in Ireland — its research labs are renowned incubators of new technologies, from monitoring the health of astronauts in space to adding nanotechnology to cosmetics. With more patents filed per year than any other university in Ireland, Ulster recognises a great innovation when it sees one. So it’s no surprise that the university has enthusiastically adopted iPhone to keep its staff connected.

“Innovation is vital to this institution”, says Timothy Brundle, Ulster’s Director of Innovation. “It’s crucial to the ways we engage students on campus and online, and to the application and commercialisation of our research. And it’s the reason we’ve gotten very excited about iPhone”.

Simplifying Support

iPhone enables the university to standardise its mobile communications among multiple locations and thousands of users. “We wanted one simple, reliable mobile device that supports a plethora of business applications”, says Andrew Trimble, Director of Information Services. “The combined functionalities of iPhone — telephony, email, calendaring and more — make it very attractive”.

At first, iPhones were distributed only to senior staff and IT teams. But before long everyone wanted one, says Gareth McAleese, Assistant Director of Applications Delivery. “Initially we tried to limit the adoption rate, but we soon realised that iPhone was not only simpler to use, but less time-consuming for us to support than laptops”.

Helping Executives Deliver

Besides easing his daily life on campus, Brundle finds that iPhone has made him more productive in his work with the university’s portfolio companies, where Ulster’s patented innovations are developed and brought to market.

“I need to see accounts, memos and legal agreements”, he says, “and all those things are coming through as attachments. iPhone makes it easy to zoom into key parts of these documents and spreadsheets, no matter where I am. Having a trustworthy platform that lets me take my office on the road is priceless”.

In fact, many Ulster executives now rely on their iPhones for functions that once demanded a laptop, says McAleese: “With iPhone, everyone is more contactable and responsive. They’re getting updates on meetings, checking calendars and emails, opening and viewing attachments. And data security is not a concern, because we’re able to remotely wipe an iPhone if it’s lost or someone repeatedly enters the wrong access code”.

Redrawing the Learning Curve

Students at Ulster have also embraced iPhone, pointing to possible new educational directions for the university. “For example, they’re eagerly taking advantage of iTunes U to engage in new ways of learning”, says Brundle. “They’re augmenting the conventional classroom environment with these new materials. A new form of global collective learning is being born and that completely changes the education game”.

“This generation of students has grown up communicating on mobile devices”, Trimble agrees. “It’s their native environment, so why shouldn’t we adopt it for academic purposes?” By delivering some educational materials via iPhone, he adds — for example, an online video of a scientific procedure — the university can reach more students more easily, on campus and elsewhere.

But Ulster’s students are doing more than simply soaking up knowledge from their iPhones, Trimble observes: “They’re developing their own iPhone apps, everything from monitoring how the buses are running to locating pubs where their classmates are. We’ve even started a couple of companies on the backs of iPhone apps — companies that are actually doing quite well”.

With a keen eye for innovation, the University of Ulster sees iPhone as both a great business device and an exciting new tool for personal mobile computing. “When you look at everything iPhone can do, it’s a platform that’s key to the development of not just the university, but also Northern Ireland’s technoulsterl future”, says Brundle. “Its importance is recognised within industry, within academia, even within government. iPhone can enable a lot of progress across all those fields”.

Company Snapshot

  • Founded in 1984
  • Four campuses across Northern Ireland
  • 3,300 educational and administrative staff
  • Campus One programme offers online courses to students all over the world
  • www.ulster.ac.uk

“iPhone makes it easy to zoom into key parts of documents and spreadsheets, no matter where I am. Having a trustworthy platform that lets me take my office on the road is priceless.”

Timothy Brundle, Director of Innovation, University of Ulster


“We soon realised that iPhone was not only simpler to use, but less time-consuming for us to support than laptops.”

Gareth McAleese, Assistant Director of Applications Delivery, University of Ulster

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