Thursday, July 18, 2013

Life after BlackBerry: Enterprise Contact Management is Still Essential

iPhone, BlackBerry and Android users benefit when an enterprise-grade contact management solution automatically updates the company’s mobile devices.

A few months ago, a sysadmin called us from a well-known law firm that happens to be a long-term itrezzo customer. A very senior partner was frustrated that his BlackBerry was missing the mobile phone number for one of his subordinates. The subordinate had in fact joined the firm recently and got a new phone just a few days later.

“This can’t employee is missing from my smart phone contact list.”

This senior partner was annoyed--and puzzled--that his smartphone address book was incomplete. He expected a complete, correct, up to date address book and employee directory in all of his mobile devices, at all times. The issue had to be corrected, quickly.

Before you discount this situation as nothing more than an overpaid prima donna driving the IT department bonkers about trivial issues, it may be helpful to get two facts.  First, this partner nurtures clients who represent tens of millions of dollars to the firm.  Second, he works around the clock, travels two weeks a month, and lives and dies by his smartphone and iPad.  

Who cares?  Does the IT Department also provide a full time techie to be at a partner’s side whenever minor tasks pop up?

If you are not familiar with what our company does, it may seriously surprise you that the contact management of a user's smartphone is now part of the SLA for the law firm’s IT group. What could possibly justify the CIO promising an SLA for such a seemingly simple task that any user could do themselves ?  After all, isn't it called a Personal Address Book ?

A trivial task, multiplied 1,500 times, becomes a time drain subject to errors

Some IT Managers reading up to this point may still be confused.  To explain, let’s assume a company has 1,500 employees. Each month there are dozens of changes to the company address book.  Employees are hired and terminated. Numerous phone, location, title and name changes occur. How are the updates made in hundreds of employee smart phones?  

The most common solution to this situation: the IT Department continues to keep this burden on each smartphone user. For most companies, that raises some questions:

  1. Are contact changes communicated to users? How will users know that contact updates are required (before they need it?)  Are notifications sent via email possibly causing additional clutter in the inbox?

  1. If each user has to manage their own contacts, could this really cost the company anything significant? We have found that there is an average company address list turnover of three per cent each month. With 1,500 employees, that translates to 45 contact changes per month and consumes 30 minutes a month of employee contact editing. If there are 1,000 smartphone users collectively performing the same updates, what is the real cost of 30,000 employee minutes ?

  1. If users are not able to maintain their contacts, what is the cost of having incorrect or missing information?   Could new business be lost if contacts are missing? What about employee safety or business continuity?

Automation means every smartphone contains every employee’s contact information

Back to the senior partner at the law form -- should he assign an assistant to update the contacts in his smartphone directory?  Fortunately, automation solves this conundrum. Every smartphone used at this law firm contains every contact for every employee--and they are always up to date. The contact list includes every phone number, text field, address, and employee ID photo. Smartphone users at this company never need to add an internal contact to their address book.

In fact, staff members also have all of the required client contacts automatically updated in their smartphone.

Reverse caller ID and the accurate, complete smartphone address book means that important calls from other employees and important clients  will never be mistakenly punted to voicemail.

The ROI of automating management of contact information

Smartphone contact management isn't the most complex solution that the IT Department provides.  It is very low cost to implement and maintain, however, and has a high ROI.  

Smartphone usage in the enterprise has exploded in just the past few years and the CIO wants to make IT a really useful engine for the company. At this law firm, Unified Contact Management is another way that the Information Technology Group can increase shareholder value. It also goes without saying that the highest paid people in the company greatly appreciate anything that can save them time from tedious tasks. That is a bonus for the CIO as well.

Benefits of contact management apply equally to all smartphone users

It doesn’t matter whether your company uses iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, or Windows Phone.  Automating smartphone address book management has never been more helpful, nor had a higher ROI, than it does today.

The benefits to the company, and to end users (the employees) apply equally to iPhones, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phones. For a more technical description of the contact management differences between these devices, I will be posting this information in my next  blog post.