iPhone in Business


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Data defenders.

For the top-tier IT professionals at Unisys, iPhone makes security simple.

Information technology is a double-edged sword. Digital networking makes large organisations more agile and productive, but it can also open the door to intruders, snooping competitors and foreign operatives. Network administrators are tasked with securing servers even as other employees enter sensitive data in cloud-based spreadsheets, or work remotely with laptops full of proprietary data.

As the risks multiply, it’s good to have Unisys on your side. With roots extending back to 1950s-vintage mainframes, this global IT consultancy provides industrial-strength hardware and critical security services to a select list of government agencies and multinational corporations. Name a data- or computer-intensive field, and Unisys is in the game: biometric security, financial transactions, radio-frequency identification, even weather prediction. And now the company can deliver these leading-edge services with greater speed, reach and flexibility than ever before, thanks to iPhone.

“iPhone has become an integral part of our business”, says Ted Davies, President of Unisys Federal Systems, who manages accounts such as the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Since Unisys adopted iPhone a year ago, the device now connects one-third of the company’s mobile workers — “and that number grows every day”, Davies notes.

With iPhone, Unisys staff can remotely access Exchange email, contacts and calendars, send and receive attachments such as spreadsheets and presentations, and view external and internal websites using the built-in Safari browser. “Whether it’s the middle of the night or the middle of a meeting, clients can get hold of us and send us things, and we can easily review them and respond immediately”, he says.

But iPhone does more than enhance personal productivity: It weaves Unisys employees worldwide into a unified mobile workforce. “iPhone allows us to do our job better than we’ve been able to do it in the past, and to be connected in a way we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago”, says Tip Underwood, Vice President of Sales and Management Support, who works with the Unisys group responsible for customs and border security.

For example, meeting service-level agreements in the company’s widespread data centres once required round-the-clock onsite administrators. Now a custom iPhone application monitors quality of service throughout the distributed infrastructure. If anything goes wrong, technicians can be dispatched directly to the trouble spots. “Our IT folks are wildly excited by the possibilities”, Underwood says. “They’re asking, ‘What other applications can we develop?’”

At Unisys, a critical prerequisite for custom iPhone apps is security. “Unisys is in the business of securing data, applications and systems”, Underwood says, “and iPhone lets us make sure we’re addressing those concerns”. Before allowing a mobile device to log onto one of its networks, the company subjects it to a rigorous validation process, requiring device certificates, user certificates and strong passcodes. In addition, Unisys takes advantage of data encryption and remote wipe with Microsoft Exchange on iPhone to make sure proprietary information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. “A wide range of aspects give us confidence that iPhone is a secure device”, Underwood says.

Thwarting intruders is a top priority not only internally, but for Unisys customers as well. To address these needs, the company is developing new apps such as Unisys Perimeter Security, a prototype program for iPhone that extends the reach of systems that lock down facilities like airports and factories. Traditionally, security personnel are stuck behind banks of video screens; when one detects an intruder, he notifies a guard on patrol, who comes running. The Unisys app automates the process, piping video directly to iPhones carried by mobile officers. The system maps the officers’ locations and when it detects an incident, it dispatches them directly. Facial recognition algorithms help track the intruder from camera to camera, and the video is relayed via iPhone, leading security forces to the right location while providing full situational awareness.

The development time for this app? A weekend. Underwood credits this quick turnaround to the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), which gives developers maximum functionality with minimum effort. The SDK’s Map Kit provides familiar online mapping features, while the UI Kit ensures a consistent look and feel that helps users get up and running quickly. “It’s exciting not only for the development team, but for the management team to see so many new opportunities to meet client needs”, Underwood says.

This excitement is made possible by the combination of utility, security and flexibility, allowing iPhone to fulfill a broad range of functions quickly and efficiently.

“We’ve seen the major trends around the Internet: mobility, device choice and cloud computing”, Davies says. “Now we have a device that is being rapidly embraced by three generations of knowledge workers, and that companies are very pleased to adopt. iPhone gives Unisys all the ingredients to deliver user-driven services — services the client needs, on a mobile device the user loves”. For Unisys, that’s a sure-fire formula for keeping employees productive, customers satisfied and networks safe.

Company Snapshot

  • Global leader in computing systems, services and security
  • 25,000 employees in 100 countries
  • Serves major firms in finance, retail, manufacturing and transportation
  • US Government clients include Defense, Homeland Security and civilian agencies
  • www.unisys.com

“iPhone gives Unisys all the ingredients to deliver user-driven services — services the client needs, on a mobile device the user loves.”

Ted Davies, President, Unisys Federal Systems

“A wide range of aspects give us confidence that iPhone is a secure device.”

Tip Underwood, Vice President of Sales and Management Support

“Our IT folks are wildly excited by the possibilities. They’re asking, ‘What other applications can we develop?’”

Tip Underwood, Vice President of Sales and Management Support

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