The company's 400 field workers use devices that are company-provided or paid for through reimbursements. "We actually wanted people to have a consistent experience, so we chose iPads and iPhones as our main devices, but some people wanted Android devices" and are allowed to use them, he says. Workers previously carried laptops and printers along with BlackBerry devices, but productivity rose with the iPads and iPhones, he explains. "Our sales reps can complete more activities with the iPads and iPhones and we can provide them with mobile applications that allow them to collaborate much more easily than in the past."
Cora Carmody, the senior vice president of information technology at Pasadena, Calif.-based Jacobs Engineering Group, says her company looked at mobile devices from a different angle -- that of expense management. As the recession took its toll, Jacobs continued to look for ways to cut costs until finally the cellphone bills of some 45,000 workers became an enticing target, she says.
The company had acquired several other businesses and was bringing in new users who all had different mobile vendors and devices, so the IT group decided to look at it and find better ways of making it work.
Their answer was what Jacobs calls "wireless divestiture" -- in other words, buying the devices for workers but then requiring workers to pay their own monthly bills. Workers are given calling cards for travel and can also expense extraordinary calls if needed, Carmody explains.
Jacobs has saved about $15 million annually since reorganizing its mobile device strategy, Carmody says.
At first there was some grumbling about the new strategy, Carmody admits. But the company met with mobile vendors to work out good deals for employees when they signed up for new service contracts, so because the financials were in their favor, employees started gradually accepting the new arrangement over time.
"You can expect some complaints and backlash at the start," she says, "but we are also pleasantly surprised that some people recognized the new choices that they had" in terms of different types of service contracts -- "and appreciated that."
Jacobs worked up front with mobile vendors to obtain discounted rates to allow employees to move to whichever carrier and plan fit their usage and travel patterns best, according to Carmody. "Previously employees were carrying two devices; one for Jacobs support and one as their own personal device." By consolidating to one device, employees' mobile situation has been simplified considerably.
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