Clear business gains from BlackBerry mobile technology

Significant business efficiencies and cost savings can be gained from using converged voice and data devices

There are significant business efficiencies and cost savings to be gained from using converged voice and data devices. These are the findings of the largest study of its kind into the usage of Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry handhelds, which are increasingly being selected by companies to carry out business on the move.

The BlackBerry ROI study was commissioned by Research In Motion and undertaken to reflect the growing international popularity of BlackBerry handhelds. Ipsos-Reid, a leading global survey-based market research group, carried out the study, which was conducted with 490 IT managers responsible for managing BlackBerry in their firms, and 210 BlackBerry end users. Users with voice enabled on their BlackBerry handhelds, as well as data, comprised 51% of respondents.

The study found that the core benefits to businesses of using the BlackBerry devices were productivity gains; workflow efficiencies; and immediacy; and on the cost side, BlackBerry reduced business costs, and gave a good Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and a strong Return on Investment (ROI).

Productivity Gains
In terms of productivity benefits, 98% of respondents agreed that “BlackBerry has allowed me to convert downtime into productive time by giving me access to my email at all times.”

The typical end user said they recovered around an hour per work day (54 minutes) by using the BlackBerry, which translates to the recovery of approximately 196 hours per year, assuming a five-day workweek and 50 working weeks per year. The users of the integrated voice and data BlackBerry model indicated that both voice and data features were essential in allowing them to do this. For example, many would respond to email with email or voice calls; and to voicemail and phone calls with email and phone calls, opening up their communication options.

Users were also asked how much personal time they recovered each day because of BlackBerry, and 77% estimated their daily personal time savings due to BlackBerry was around 27 minutes. That recovered personal time led to a feeling of an improved quality of life which could result in lower absenteeism and greater loyalty to the firm, found the researchers.

The study also discovered that Blackberry users working in teams gained from better workflow processes, because users were able to remain fully functional members of their team while they were mobile.

Mersey Care NHS Trust is one example of an organisation whose teams have gained  from using RIM’s Blackberry. Mark Blakeman, director of information management and technology at Mersey Care NHS Trust, said, “The BlackBerry has enabled our management team to work more effectively and efficiently. It has ensured that they keep working as a team even when they very rarely have the opportunity to meet up. It is an easy solution to use so has become an integrated part of how we work ensuring fast accurate communication across the organisation helping us to be even more efficient and provide a high level of service.”

Both voice and data access were key here, because, for example, not being able to respond to requests to sign-off on project terms or costs can result in mobile managers or staff slowing down tasks and project completions for many others.

Ninety nine percent of respondents said BlackBerry had enhanced their workflow efficiency, with workflow referring to the processes used to complete tasks and projects by interacting with colleagues and business systems.

One of the main reasons companies selected the BlackBerry platform was to gain from the immediacy and speed of always-on voice and data facilities. In terms of immediacy benefits from BlackBerry services, these include client acquisition and retention through improved responsiveness and fast transactions. In other words, companies are gaining the competitive edge by doing business quickly, using the power of always-on wireless voice and data devices.

Email is used as the key driver of BlackBerry immediacy but quick access to a user’s calendar, contacts or other organiser data is often vital to achieve an immediacy benefit. Several respondents to the BlackBerry ROI study discussed single multi-million dollar immediate emails that they attributed to gaining or retaining major clients, or allowing end users to take advantage of short-term information for direct financial gain.

The research calculated that users received seven time-sensitive emails per day (35 per week) on their BlackBerry, while they are away from the office. The average number of business emails received per day by respondents was 48, and users tended to spend 39% of their time away from the office. Incidentally, 39% of email was also classified as time sensitive.

Including both sent and received email, the typical BlackBerry end user addresses 55 time-sensitive emails each week, or 2,750 time-sensitive emails per year, highlighting the device’s worth.

The BlackBerry also yielded the benefits of voice immediacy, with BlackBerry users, with voice activated on their BlackBerry handheld, conducting 650 minutes of voice calls per month. By their nature, these phone calls all have an element of time sensitivity to them.

Cost Savings
The main financial saving for a company’s IT department from using BlackBerry devices comes from decreased Remote Access Server (RAS) usage, for laptops connected to the corporate network through dial-up accounts.
The average BlackBerry user who dialled into the corporate network prior to using BlackBerry would spend 6.6 hours a month dialled into the corporate network. Since becoming a BlackBerry user the average end user is dialled into the corporate network for 1.9 hours - a drop of 71%.

In light of this, Ipsos calculated that a company could save $276 per year for an average BlackBerry user. The researchers calculated this figure by exploring the total cost of ownership for an average BlackBerry user, with voice activated on their BlackBerry handheld, and where the company has a 100 user setup.

The annual TCO is $1,264 for an average BlackBerry user, which includes the BlackBerry ($183), BlackBerry Software ($56), server hardware ($50), airtime – data and voice, BlackBerry pilot costs, and internal support costs. With similar calculations carried out for RAS hardware solutions, Ipsos found that a company could save $276 per year for an average BlackBerry user.

The report concludes that in addition to the cost savings, IT support for BlackBerry handhelds is “not burdensome”. “Fifty percent of IT managers report spending eight hours per month or less supporting their BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. Fifty percent of IT managers report spending 13 hours per month or less supporting BlackBerry handhelds including new deployments. This equates to an average total IT time investment of 23 minutes per user per month. Every working day, each BlackBerry user recovers over twice the monthly IT time investment through personal productivity alone. BlackBerry workflow benefits and immediacy benefits further justify the costs and internal resource commitments associated with deploying and managing BlackBerry,” added the report.

Orange is an example of a telecoms service provider that is committed to offering customers a range of BlackBerry business services. Orange recognises that BlackBerry is an effective product and has already provided immense cost savings and efficiencies for many businesses.

One Orange Blackberry customer is Europe's biggest breakfast TV station GMTV. Geoff Wright, chief engineer at GMTV, said, “The Blackberry from Orange is simple and easy to use. This coupled with the physical size and weight, makes it an ideal handheld device. The technology and underlying security has been very stable and reliable to date. It works – which is not always the case with other devices.”

Orange also understands that BlackBerry may not be the right product for every organisation, and that wireless phones, PDAs, pagers, remote laptops or wireless telemetry might provide more suitable solutions. It may be that your company has different types of mobile data users, so you may need two or even three different services. Orange provides wireless business services in all of these areas, and has the knowledge and expertise to discuss the mobile data options most appropriate for your company.

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