From the reaction from many of our team members, you would have thought we had returned to the dark ages when carrier pigeons were the frontier of messaging technology.
A reporter from one of our sister publications, who will remain unnamed to spare their blushes, had what appeared to be a full blown panic attack at the idea that they would not be able to receive email whilst out at a press conference.
I have to confess I have secretly been enjoying the outage. With many of our sister publications and much of senior management based in the US urgent emails can come in until late hours of the evening, often leading to late night conference calls which have been known to upset both husband and cat, so the break from constant communication was quite refreshing.
However, with such a well respected system commonly used by business struggling with such high-profile issues, I wonder what the implications on the growth of mobile working will be.
The incident has raised serious questions about RIM’s often-touted 99.999% network, which many businesses have grown to rely on for their increasingly mobile workforce.
With the reliability of devices such as Blackberrys being seriously questioned, could some employers begin to rethink their mobile working policies?
In the UK over a third of employees at small businesses with fewer than 300 staff work away from the office and this figure rises to 75% in medium-sized businesses (over 300 staff), according to the study by Timlico released last month, which questioned 200 directors of UK SMEs from the public to the private sector.
93% of the directors in UK SMEs that were surveyed believe that mobile working is either a continuing or rising trend. It would be interesting to see if the same figure were to emerge should the survey be re-taken this week.
Should mobile working policies be reversed there is also a potential for pension fund investments to be impacted. Many equity portfolios for pension funds have a large exposure to technology companies specializing in mobile working as asset managers have strong belief in their future profits. For example, Godman Sachs recently invested $70m in AppSense, a UK company specializing in applications for mobile working.
For those who haven’t been affected by the “crackberry” outage, here’s what happened:
Millions of customers worldwide had their messaging and email service disrupted with many turning to Twitter to express their anger. RIM put the ongoing problems down to "backlog issues", following a system failure.
Users began to report loss of services mid-morning on 10 October and the problems spread around the world.
The firm is keen to be seen as sorting the problems swiftly, following confusion earlier in the week when it said services were back to normal, only to be contradicted by frustrated customers. In the media business, this kind of communication is otherwise known as a “PR Fail.”
If you are on twitter search for #prfail and you will find some entertaining stories about public relations folk getting things oh so very wrong.
Perhaps it’s time for me to finally follow the example of many of our team and get an iPhone…