Are We Over-Blackberryed?

In yesterday’s Toronto Star, there’s a story about the city of Toronto wants to hire an “enterprise technical support specialist” to look after the city’s 1,800 Blackberrys.

This prompted Councillor Doug Holyday, a non-Blackberry users, to ask why the city’s employees are using so many Blackberrys.

“I think we’re over-BlackBerryed here. I don’t see anybody doing a better job because they’ve got a BlackBerry,” he said. “I hear them going off in council meetings all the time. I wonder what the heck’s going on.”

While Blackberrys can be great communication and productivity tools, Holyday makes a good point, especially for a city struggling financially. Do 1,300 employees really need a Blackberry to do their jobs?

Having lived without a Blackberry for the past few days and survived the need to constantly check my e-mail, I think many companies are, in fact, over-Blackberryed. At many companies, Blackberrys have become standard issue based on the notion that if an employee is accessible at all times day and night, they’ll work more and harder.

Of course, there’s a cost that comes with having a Blackberry. They cost about $75 to $150/month per employee (the city of Toronto is, therefore, spending about $1.8-million/year for its Blackberrys). And there’s a soft cost that companies pay for having employees who aren’t able to disconnect because they’re continually tethered to their corporate Blackberry.

In reality, many employees could easily operate just fine without a Blackberry. Rather than having mobile e-mail and the Web, they could use a basic phone to stay connected – just like the old days.

More: For Blackberry fans out there, has a review the Niagara 9630.

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  • Wayne

    I disagree. In my business the Blackberry is now a standard piece of the business infrastructure, just like a phone and a PC – particularly if you travel somewhat.

    But then again, we are interested in making a profit.

  • Chris

    I also disagree. My company has offices all over the world – and unfortunately we can’t always schedule our work (e.g. meetings, conference calls and document exchanges) between 9 and 5 EST, so a BlackBerry provides us the flexibility to become unchained from our desk and physical office.

  • Andy

    Well sure for many businesspersons it is a very valuable instrument but I do believe that there are plenty of people who can do without. This need to be always connected can be just as addictive as internet in general.

  • Kevin

    Good point. As a blackberry user myself, I see the value in certain aspects of my position. I do think, however, that many positions are justifying the use of smartphones when they are really not necessary.

    BTW, the correct spelling in the last sentence is Niagara. 3 a’s.

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