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Iphone - a great travelling companion

The iPhone and a Japan Rail IC card - a great combination to improve efficiency

Management and Technology consultants Bearing Point made news late last year when it became Softbank’s first corporate client for the iPhone 3g, equipping 1000 employees with them in a bid to improve the productivity of its consultants by giving them easy access to information. In an interview today with Nikkei Net, Bearing Point are reporting that the iPhone has changed the way that they work.

More efficient use of time

Before the introduction of the iPhone, having arrived at the office employees would spend 30-40 minutes every day checking their emails – time that could have been better spent visiting clients. With the iPhone, consultants and sales staff are now able to connect to the company’s mail server and deal with their inboxes during what are often quite lengthy train journeys around the city – time that previously had been totally unproductive, and boring for the staff involved.

Thus, the average time it takes consultants to acknowledge emails has improved dramatically. Not only this, the company’s internal communication culture has changed, with emails becoming short and to the point – a positive by-product of having such a small keyboard to type on.

Cost benefits of the iPhone

The company also praises Softbank for its fixed-price unlimited data plan, which now allows effective budgeting, something that previously had not been possible. When asked about the costs of voice calls, whilst the company provided no details of any overall saving, it did point out that 47% of internal calls were now made by iPhone (fixed line extensions having been phased out for many staff) – and with Softbank offering free calls between users of its network from 1am to 9pm this naturally has had a big impact.

Security

When it comes to corporate use, the iPhone is often said to be inappropriate due to its relative lack of security. But due to the way in which they use the device (i.e. phone calls / email access / internet access) Bearing Point wouldn’t agree . Having restricted access to the iTunes App Store, and without programs such as MS Word or Powerpoint or any easy way to transfer documents to or from the iPhone, this is not such an issue (consultants also carry laptops and data cards should they need to work with documents when on the move).

Who’s responsible?

With the phones being on loan to staff from the company, there’s just one main rule: don’t lose them! Staff are warned not to leave them out ‘on display’. If they wish to download games, they can, but are required to pay for the cost of the data.

The company has also notes that less time is wasted with faulty phones. With an automatic backup being made of the phone when synched with iTunes on a company PC, should there be a problem, it doesn’t take long to restore lost settings or data. Additionally, specialist staff are not required: the users themselves are able to sort it out.

Bearing Point are now looking into setting up a VPN server for their iPhone-enabled staff.

Overall, the company is delighted with how the iPhone has changed the way its staff work, and find nothing to fault in the device.

(Original article: 「iPhone」1000台で働く形はこう変わった ベリングポイント、導入半年
Nikkei Net, 13th March.

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