Enterprise mobility and the recent Bring Your Own Device movement have altered the way employees function in the workplace. On one hand, the employee’s use of a smartphone means they can be productive for their employer just about anywhere. On the other hand, an employee’s ability to move corporate money around with their personal mobile device has certainly created some anxieties among executives.
How can the enterprise reconcile this merging of corporate and personal functions? Enter Expensify. The travel and expense management firm emerged on the market right around the time the Apple app store debuted, and with Expensify’s partnership with Apple – announced only days ago – the company has seen firsthand the evolution of mobile-for-enterprise solutions.
PYMNTS spoke with Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett about this evolution, Apple’s role in that journey, and how enterprise mobility will begin to tackle the challenge of the work-life divide on professionals’ mobile devices.
Mobilizing Enterprise With Apple
When Expensify released its mobile app designed specifically for the iPad earlier this month, the company also revealed that it will be joining Apple under its mobility partnership program.
“Apple is recognizing they’ve created this enormous enterprise opportunity, and now it’s time to harvest it,” Barrett told PYMNTS. He added that while, from the beginning, Expensify has supported the platforms of BlackBerry and Palm, iOS has emerged as a resilient front-runner for taking advantage of what consumers and employees started: the BYOD movement.
[bctt tweet="The Bring Your Own Device movement is no longer a movement – it’s a reality"]
“The Bring Your Own Device movement is no longer a movement – it’s a reality,” Barrett said. “Any company that uses Apple devices is already a company that’s forward-thinking. They care about employee productivity and high quality, and they recognize the incredible value of an organization using these products.”
Travel and expense management, Barrett explained, has been at the forefront of these trends. But, he said, companies like Expensify are also at the forefront of some of the challenges now coming to light from enterprise mobility.
The ability for an employee to use a familiar mobile device for corporate processes is efficient and convenient. But for some corporations, it is also concerning. Especially in an area like T&E, where corporate money is involved, how can corporate finances remain safeguarded when an employee can gain access to businesses processes 27/7?
“It’s not going to come down to a ‘work device’ versus a ‘personal device,’ Barrett said of the increasing use of personal smartphones and tablets for professional use. “The future of the Bring Your Own Device movement is having a blended device.”
[bctt tweet="The future of the Bring Your Own Device movement is a blended device"]
He added that this vision is one that includes the “carving out” of a portion of a device’s functionality just for business use. Expense management, he said, is on the front lines of this shift. When employees can make purchases with their personal cards and expense it through a mobile device, or when employees have a commercial card uploaded to a mobile wallet for business expenses, the line between what makes a device “personal” and “professional” blurs.
“We deal with that blurry line all day long, of personal versus business,” Barrett said. “We’re familiar with that sometimes contentious line between personal and business life. It’s become more common, but it’s also becoming more clear as the tools develop to manage that complexity.”
He pointed to some service providers that are “sandboxing” mobile devices – that is, they provide an application to separate the work and personal functions of a device. “It’s a software separation,” Barrett said, “not a hardware separation.”
Once again, it seems, the enterprise mobility journey is taking a new turn, and expense management companies like Expensify, Barrett said, are in the driver’s seat. “Not everything needs to be mobile,” he said. “Something like expense management, however, absolutely needs to be mobile.”
He added that working with Apple and the rest of its partners, developing mobile enterprise apps will have to tackle these issues head-on: How can a corporation protect its money when employees have access to it on their personal devices? How can mobile devices differentiate between personal and professional function?
As corporations were a bit reluctant to first embrace the BYOD trend, Barrett said that there will be concerns in the corporate community about these hurdles, too.
“There are still customers out there with concerns about the cloud, or mobile, or BYOD, and those people are going to be around for a long time,” he said. “But those are not the forward-thinking businesses that define the future.”