BlackBerry wins friends despite support concerns

Telstra’s foray into a mobile office solution with RIM’s BlackBerry handheld device can improve business processes but the telco needs to up support quality, particularly if its enterprise uptake proliferates, according to end users of the service.

Weight Watchers Australasia’s IT manager Neil Lappage said his experience is that Telstra’s internal BlackBerry support processes are “not working well together”.

“For example, if there is a problem and you talk to sales they don’t know who to put you through to for technical support,” Lappage said. “There are internal communications problems.”

Lappage said things would be better if Telstra wholly supported BlackBerry in Australia.

“The first line of support is in Australia but the second and third line is in Canada,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to go that far for a basic question and Telstra should have more people in support here.”

Regarding the quality of the BlackBerry communication service, Lappage said it is fine but there are a few minor issues Telstra should address. “I’ve spoken to a few IT managers and most use not the BlackBerry backend server but the desktop application which is not an enterprise application,” he said. “The enterprise server [application] is good but it needs to be run on a separate server [computer]. After three years, BlackBerry is still not quite finished.”

In contrast, legal services firm Arnold Bloch Leibler’s (ABL) IT director David Leong said Telstra’s BlackBerry support has been “very good”. “Telstra’s response times are good and it has a good [device] exchange program,” Leong said. “The only time we experience long delays is when it’s out of Telstra’s hands.”

Leong said a lot of companies are deterred by the $95 per month cost of BlackBerry but the cost of alternate solutions comes with hidden expenses.

“The cost for dial-in and GPRS access would far outweigh that for BlackBerry,” he said. “The other big advantage is the attachment viewer which can read documents like Word, PDF, and Excel.”

ABL was an “early adopter” of BlackBerry since its original pilot program and now has 30 devices in use by the company’s partners and directors.

Leong said adopting the BlackBerry has also reduced confusion between users.

“They had all types of pocket PCs and because they were not using one database they would loose contacts and duplicate entries,” he said. “Users of the Integrated unit tend to use only one device so we are talking to Telstra about an upgrade path for all our mobiles. Two devices becomes unmanageable.”

Overall, Leong is happy with the BlackBerry, which he described as a “great productivity tool”.

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