Advice for IT Directors: Practice the Art of Seduction
British American Tobacco (BAT) took a maverick approach to mobilizing enterprise applications, which included deploying applications for personal use, naming ‘ambassadors' to create buzz in the organization, and delivering one-to-one training for 650 executive users! In this article, David Sampson, BAT's Head of HQIT, reveals why this user-centric approach achieved a 98% user satisfaction and quickly set the standard for best practices in mobile deployment at BAT.
"Seduce your users."
It may sound like strange advice for IT Directors, but David Sampson, Head of HQ IT at British American Tobacco (BAT) has the results to prove that this philosophy works. BAT recently deployed 650 BlackBerry® smartphones to executives at BAT global headquarters in London, England.
"Perhaps the most important thing an IT professional must realize when deploying mobile devices is that the act of pulling out and using the device is really a matter of personal choice," Sampson says.
"For example, when users are sitting in a taxi, on a subway train, at the airport, they have many choices about how they spend that time. Why should they choose to perform business activities like responding to emails, interacting with an enterprise application and so on?"
"They will only do so when they see their mobile device as something they actively want to carry with them and use at all times, not simply because they get business benefit out of using it but because they enjoy some personal benefits from it, because they're proud of it, because they think it's cool" he says.
"We want to do everything we can to encourage our users to make that choice, to take their smartphones everywhere, to use them frequently and to use their downtime to be more productive, freeing up their time and minds to add more value when they are back in the office."
A Seductive Twist on User Profiling
A traditional approach to user profiling would mean defining a mix of mobile business applications based on the roles and job activities of the end users. This is where Sampson's approach breaks from tradition.
"We recognized that at any given moment through the day, in addition to performing business roles such as decision maker, approver, collaborator and employee, BAT executives can be performing individual roles like being a father, mother, friend, partner, spouse, etc. In selecting applications, we wanted to appeal to all of these roles, no matter whether business or individual."
Sampson believes treating personal applications as taboo greatly hinders the smartphone from becoming a ubiquitous tool among users. At BAT, users are encouraged to experience personal benefits with their BlackBerry smartphones.
"On their own, BlackBerry smartphones are very attractive mobile devices. If you add to them a range of applications which are equally impressive and which play to these individual as well as professional roles, you end up with a very seductive smartphone that users want to carry everywhere, use frequently and show off with pride."
"So at any time, in addition to using their BlackBerry to email, explore our intranet, pick up management information or search our network for a business file, you might find our users using SMS functionality to make supper plans with a partner, using the browser to do personal online banking, writing their blogs, playing games or downloading ringtones. The devices are embraced wholeheartedly," he says.
In fact, in satisfaction surveys, 98% of BAT's 650 UK BlackBerry users describe their experience with their new BlackBerry smartphone and the suite of applications that BAT provides as very good or excellent.
Deliberate Efforts to Drive Adoption
This high satisfaction has much to do with approaching the deployment of new technology as a change management initiative.
"It's dangerous to assume that people will automatically adopt mobile technology just because there is a mobile component to their jobs," says Sampson. "A big factor in people's responses to new technology introduction is how they personally feel toward change and innovation."
To gauge these feelings among BAT user base, the BAT team categorized executives into one of five categories:
Category 1: Active Innovator – Love innovation and new technology on a personal level
Category 2: Eager Followers – Not overly interested in innovation, but don't want to be left out
Category 3: Open to Benefits – Neutral toward innovation, but will adopt it if it works for them
Category 4: Passive Resistors – Comply with innovative changes if they are mandated
Category 5: Active Resistors – Expend considerable effort in order to avoid change
With the user base divided into these categories as well as along the more traditional lines, Sampson set about creating a culture that would be ready to embrace the change.
"We looked at the executives in categories one and two, and selected executives with vocal personalities to receive the BlackBerry applications earlier than others. We referred to this group, informally, as ‘ambassadors' because we relied on them to create a buzz around the organization by talking enthusiastically about the smartphones and the applications. These ambassadors were also known as high performers and role models at BAT, which meant they were viewed as credible and aspirational by their peers," says Sampson.
"Very quickly, we observed a buzz around the organization, with most everyone waiting to get their hands on the new device. We supported this with a high-profile internal advertising campaign built around the slogan "Be Enlightened", which we used in the twin senses of finding enlightenment as well as abandoning the traditional laptop!"
Significant Training Investment to Ensure Returns
Sampson's approach to training is also unique among BlackBerry deployments. He shunned group training.
"The productivity gains of a BlackBerry solution are well documented," Sampson says, "but productivity is not realized if people don't know how fully to exploit the device. We realized quickly that whereas people would grasp email and PIM with little guidance, the level of our ambition for applications would require a much higher level of ability and comfort with the device"
Sampson points to the recent Ipsos-Reid study that found the average BlackBerry solution end user converts 60 minutes of downtime into productive time per day.
"So when you're mobilizing transactions, management information, and intranet tools, you need to invest significantly in training to ensure you see the productivity gains."
BAT's investment was indeed significant, with Sampson arranging one-to-one training for each of the 650 executives. "Without question, this one-to-one training was time and money well spent," Sampson asserts.
Despite Sampson's maverick approach to deployment, he also sees the value in traditional user profiling. "As we roll out to other users, we'll be taking a close look at job roles and responsibilities, and we'll select business applications according to user profiles across functions," he says.
"But honouring the individual needs of users will remain a key component of our best practices for deployment going forward," he says, "because we've seen first hand what a tremendous impact a truly user-centric philosophy has on adoption, user satisfaction and on the achievement of business benefits."
Why User Profiling Should Be Part of Your Mobility Plan
Ipsos-Reid Report: Analyzing the ROI of a BlackBerry Deployment, 2007