When its telecommunications contract expired, construction company Buildcorp was given the opportunity to upgrade its mobile hardware, so it ditched its BlackBerry fleet for Windows Phone 7.
The company was running between 50 to 60 BlackBerrys, and about 100 voice-only phones. However, staff members working on construction sites were forced to go back to the office to access information on their projects. According to Buildcorp's finance and systems manager, Brett Hoskins, when Buildcorp changed from Telstra to Optus, and was given the option of a hardware upgrade, it used this opportunity to give staff access to work while on building sites.
Buildcorp outsources its IT operations to a company called Netcare, which advised Buildcorp to purchase Windows phones, if possible, in order to reduce the administration required. In addition, Buildcorp was also advised by the company providing the application it uses most — a cloud-based project-management product called ProjectCentre — to use Windows Phone if it wanted its staff to access ProjectCentre while on the go.
Buildcorp also considered a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, but was worried that staff members who brought in their own devices wouldn't be able to access ProjectCentre, which was the main reason why the company wanted staff to have the phones.
The company trialled all of the phones, Hoskins said, getting its hands on the Nokia devices in September last year. It decided to buy around 150 of these devices.
Hoskins said that the decision on which device to take had been feature based, rather than driven by cost. A big factor in the choice of the Nokia phone was that it is a more rugged design than the other devices, according to Hoskins.
"They are quite a robust handset," he said, adding that he thinks he is seeing less broken phones now than he did with the BlackBerry and voice-phone fleet.
Some staff members who previously had two phones, a business phone and a personal phone, have cancelled their personal phone contracts, Hoskins said, which he takes as a vote of confidence in the device. Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps are popular for staff on the road, and they also enjoy Mix Radio, which is provided by Nokia.
When asked why the company didn't want to stay with the familiar BlackBerry platform, Hoskins said that Windows Phone 7, with its tiles, is a better option for older, less tech-savvy users — despite the fact that BlackBerry typically has an older user base.
Hoskins also said that the gloomy predictions around BlackBerry's future led to worries that the company wouldn't be a long-term proposition.
BlackBerry has been consistently clocking up losses. The popularity of the iPhone and Android devices, as well as a trend towards BYOD policies, has led to the leeching away of its business customer base. It recently brought in bankers to conduct strategic reviews to map a path ahead.
The choice to go with Nokia was also partly because of its commitment to Windows Phone, Hoskins said.
"Nokia's commitment to the Windows Phone platform was important in our decision to adopt Lumia. Other phone providers have a limited number of phones on the Windows Phone platform, with the remaining running Android. This long-term partnership with Microsoft ensures we have the right product support in place now and in the future."
However, Buildcorp's new devices may not be as future-proof as Hoskins might wish; current Windows Phone devices won't be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8.
Hoskins wasn't able to respond on how he feels about this, but Nokia has said that it's not a big deal, as current Windows Phone 7 devices will receive a Windows Phone 7.8 update, delivering the new Start screen interface found in Microsoft's upcoming mobile operating system.