Blackberry in small business

As someone who’s been freelance for over twenty years, I’ve occasionally found myself intimately bound into teams for a project’s duration, then life moves on. Recently, I signed over a chunk …

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5th November 2007 at 2:50 pm

As someone who’s been freelance for over twenty years, I’ve occasionally found myself intimately bound into teams for a project’s duration, then life moves on. Recently, I signed over a chunk of time on a permanent (I hope) basis to a research and analysis firm called Freeform Dynamics. And this has brought in its wake something I’d previously regarded as a corporate ‘ball and chain’, a Blackberry.

It’s a mobile phone (but I don’t use it for that), an email service and an organiser. It’s linked in to Freeform’s corporate Exchange server which is hosted by an outside company. This makes a huge amount of sense – a reliable and professional service and few IT hassles for very busy analysts.

Given that I already had all the functionality on my laptop and PDA (the O2 Trion mentioned in an earlier post), I just saw the Exchange Server bringing more complication to my life. In fact, the opposite is true. It acts as a secure and managed repository for my contacts, my calendar and my emails. The Blackberry, the Trion and my laptop essentially act as windows on to the email in the Exchange Server and the contacts/calendars are synchronised when I connect.

Once I relaxed with the idea of a Blackberry-centric Freeform life (the rest of my life is still running in the laptop/Trion combo), I thought I’d get adventurous and download the tailored Facebook application for the Blackberry.

It was a bit of a disappointment. A large part of the business value of Facebook is in the ability to collaborate in closed groups. We have one for Freeform. Membership is by invitation and nothing is made public. Since Blackberry is a business device, I would have thought that group access would be more valuable than, for example, the ‘nudge a friend’ function which goes by the unfortunate moniker of ‘poke’.

Better to use the Blackberry’s built in web browser to access the full functionality of Facebook. As for the ‘ball and chain’ aspect, it’s not the Blackberry that’s the ball and chain. It’s the user’s mind that determines whether they want to be shackled.

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David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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