A couple of years ago, while working as the General Manager for a division of a software company, the CEO proudly showed off the toy he got for Christmas, an iPad. His question was, now what?
I don't think that he was alone with his question. Tablets and Smart Phones have been demand driven by the consumer market.  However, the majority of device owners have asked how they could use it for business. If these devices can add value to ones personal life, then how could they also make ones job easier?

I sat down with the CEO and went through some of the applications which I had been using such as Evernote, Dropbox and email to name a few. The only application which would really connect me back with my business was my email, using Lotus Traveler.

Really, the iPad was not going to add tremendous value to the role of the CEO or myself, for that matter. It was really just a glorified note-taker. A hang of a lot more complicated than pen and paper. I am sensing that people can identify with this.

Fortunately, things have changed and there are now applications which allow me to hook into business systems from mobile devices. Take for example, the IBM XWork server which allows for the creation of mobile device friendly web interfaces to almost any legacy database driven desktop application. Within a matter of hours an application data can be customized for presentation on mobile devices with the ease of use that people have come to expect.

Project management has become accessible on Mobile devices through the use of IBM Connections. A tool which allows people to collaborate through the sharing of files, thoughts, ideas and the participation in team activities all from their device of choice.

This desire to use mobile devices at work is not without its risks. If your company doesn't have systems in place to support these solutions then your employees will put your company data into places where you have no control. Take for instance, Dropbox. An employee wants to have a document available on a mobile device, all they need to do is drag and drop it into a folder on their desktop computer and now, it is available on almost any device. You may not  know, that the employee is doing this with your data.  If it is not Dropbox, it will be some other application.

Another example, Evernote.  This is a convenient tool for taking notes which are then available on any device which has access to the employees Evernote account.  Notes can be taken during a meeting, using an iPad and then accessed from a PC back at the office.  I use to use Evernote, but when I realized the risk, I stopped using it, even for personal use.

At the end of the day, there are options and solutions for mobile devices.  I have outlined three which are provided by IBM (Traveler, IBM Connections & XWork Server).  The crux of the matter is, if you are not providing employees with the ability to use their mobile devices, then they will use something that you have no control over.  Put my credibility to the test, ask your employees what applications they are running.