The fruits of success

Manufacturing concern IFFCO needed to improve communications amongst its frequently-travelling workforce – and turned to RIM’s ubiquitous BlackBerry for the solution.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  February 7, 2009

Manufacturing concern IFFCO needed to improve communications amongst its frequently-travelling workforce – and turned to RIM’s ubiquitous BlackBerry for the solution.

From being virtually unknown in the region five years ago to being practically synonymous with enterprise mobile messaging today - that's the story of Research in Motion's (RIM) ubiquitous BlackBerry handset.

The device has gained acceptance among enterprise IT departments looking for a reliable alternative to notebook computers for individuals who prioritise communication above document creation while on the go.

We did discuss the fact that the running cost of BlackBerries is much higher than the device cost, which is something that we want to educate our users about.

One such organisation is UAE-based manufacturer IFFCO. The manufacturer and retailer of consumer goods operates in 11 countries across 55 locations. The firm previously issued laptops to travelling executives who wanted mobile e-mail - but as Zafar Kapadia, IFFCO's IT manager for systems and security notes, internal communication was still sluggish.

"The main idea was to have a quick response and approvals process. In the past, if an approval was required - like say from the factory - they had to wait for the next working day to come and the person to come into the office. Now with push e-mail facilities, if a quick decision has to be taken, the e-mail can be answered right away," he explains.

Anamitra Roy, group director of IT, describes the cultural change the handset has brought to the firm: "Earlier, office timings were nine to six - now it's a 24/7 office. We are a very lean structure globally, with very few people compared to its size. There are managers who are constantly on a plane; BlackBerry is a device whereby they can stay in touch even though the whole team does not know where they are."

"What we have done is also move a lot of applications into BlackBerry. People basically require a few things like e-mail, access to documents on the file server, the ability to print or to do a presentation. If he can do all these, he doesn't really need a laptop or an office. Whether it is a sales person or a senior manager, his work revolves around one of these four activities. Almost all of them can be done in a BlackBerry very easily today," he adds.

Roy adds that one of the key concerns about using laptops was that data security could not be assured: "All our sales data for all our sales people is primarily on the laptop so if it gets lost - and this has happened often - we don't know where it can end up. We are always worried about how much information should be on the laptop and whether he is allowed to carry it with him."

Kapadia first began looking into using BlackBerries as a replacement for the firm's laptops in 2006. He went to the UK to speak to RIM through telecoms provider O2, which supplied him with four trial devices.

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