Mystery Caller – August 2016

This month our mystery caller is keen to get his staff onto tablets but is worried they won’t be up to the job. He has previously gone through laptop upgrades every four or five years and now he wants to give his staff something that is easier to carry around. Can he still get the same productivity benefits from his staff if they are on tablets and not laptops? Does he need to worry about compatibility issues? Will he still be able to make use of communication software like video conferencing etc? Is he better off going down to a retailer rather than through a reseller? These are all questions he needs answers to before he makes the leap. See how he got on below.

EE Business

After having a bit of a rummage around Google I saw that ee’s business arm were selling tablets so I thought I would find out a bit more about their offering! Ben answered my call and was happy to help. I asked about what kind of service ee offered around the hardware and Ben told me that the data SIM was all that they offered.

Undeterred I asked about what kind of hardware they were selling and what they recommended to businesses and Ben rattled off a number of brands including Samsung, Apple, Huawei and the ee branded Jay. Ben told me that there isn’t a huge amount of difference between tablets these days, especially for business users, and if we wanted something that would be cost effective and also provide a decent comparison to what we had been using already then the Samsung Galaxy Tab range would be a good model to look at.

In Ben’s opinion the Apple product sets were too expensive for business users and he told me that the only reason people go for Apple is because they want a brand name or they already have a few other Apple products and want to stick with the same manufacturer.

Ben took me through the prices on 24 and 36 month contracts and explained it was a little like buying a smartphone these days. You buy the data SIM to go in the tablet and pay it off monthly in the same way you would a mobile phone contract. The cheaper Huawei and Jay models started at around £7.50/m where as the iPad’s started at £20 for the most basic model. Samsung Galaxy Tab A started at just £10/m and came with 4GB of data.

I wanted to know if I could expect the same sort of productivity levels I got from working with a laptop so asked about keyboards which I could attach to devices. This is where Ben wasn’t really sure what ee offered. He tried to save the conversation by explaining why I should buy through ee. Ben said I was paying for the network coverage and speed which ee have. If we went down to PC World and bought the devices separately the only advantage we would get is that we wouldn’t be locked into a contract, however we would be paying for the privilege.

Total 16/30 – Could do better. Although Ben had some good information about prices and the options available to me he didn’t really give me much else. He also took no details from me either. He did have good knowledge of data plans and devices available, but I could have got most of that information on their website.

Lister UC

I had high hopes when I rand Lister as their website looked decent and their ethos seemed to encompass a converged landscape which covered mobile, cloud, networks and traditional comms. They even had a dedicated section on their website for tablets in businesses.

After getting through to the receptionist I was passed over to Richard who seemed happy enough to listen to what I had to say. His initial reaction was if we were looking for laptop replacements then really we should be looking at something like the Microsoft Surface Pro range because that would give us the best of both worlds.

Richard told me that they only really recommend the usual Galaxy Tab and iPad ranges to people that are using them for basic business tasks like email and a bit of web browsing. People who are looking for real laptop replacements generally need fairly top end machines that have detachable keyboards.

I tried to explain what we wanted to use the tablets for and Richard was a bit unsure as to how to proceed. He explained they had just acquired an IT services company and that it may be worth me speaking to them. Richard explained a little bit about what else they could offer me and explained what we did would ultimately come down to what we needed the tablets to do.

It was at this point Richard realised we were located half way across the country and I could feel his enthusiasm drop. He clearly thought arranging a meeting would be a lot of hassle but instead said I could email him my exact requirements and he would pass it on to the relevant people.

Total 13/30 – urrrrgh! This call was like trying to get blood from a stone…with a spoon. Richard did well to field a call he probably wasn’t meant to but I feel he could have done a lot better. He didn’t ask for my details and couldn’t give me much information.

Active Business Communications

This was a particularly short call which baffled me somewhat! I got through to a lady whose name I managed to miss, I subsequently asked if they dealt with tablets and solutions around tablets for businesses. I got a non-committal “yes” but then she added that all they could do would be to provide the tablets and a service which could replace or repair them if needed. I tried to pursue but got the impression a few tablets wasn’t really worth their time and effort! The call ended with no details exchanging hands and a sense that my request was perhaps an unusual one. I couldn’t score this call and was quite confused I didn’t get further, perhaps the kettle had just boiled and I was in the way of her afternoon tea fix!

Round up

Disappointing across the board this week. I didn’t ever think ee Business would have won this showdown. It goes to show how it is imperative to get the right people talking on the phone. The lady from AB Comms almost discarded my request within seconds and, although quite polite and friendly, she didn’t really have any hunger to find out exactly what I needed. Lister UC wasn’t great either, I just didn’t get the depth of information I was looking for and Richard didn’t really give me a compelling reason to ever call back. Ben from ee probably did the best job but only because he knew exactly what he could, and couldn’t, give me. We were able to start at that point and move on. Ben also was the only person to persuade me that going through a network or a reseller was better than walking down to my local PC World.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine