Three Ways Your Company Can Extend the Lifespan of its Mobile Devices

Eric Lai

Kyle Wiens is the co-founder and CEO of iFixit, whose Web site you might have visited to read its funny and geekily-detailed teardowns of new gadgets, to download instructions for self-repairing that iPhone you dropped into the toilet, I mean, bathtub, or to buy screens and screwdrivers for the aforementioned repairs.

Since its founding eight years ago, the San Luis Obispo, Calif. company has grown to a $4-million-a-year firm on the strength of its mission: “to save the world, one gizmo at a time.” Unlike Gazelle or, which want to buy your used PCs and devices to resell, iFixit wants users to hold onto their gadgets as long as possible by giving them the tools and know-how to upgrade and repair them.

This might be novel to many consumers, but it probably resonates with anyone working in corporate IT, where boosting ROI and slashing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) have long been key goals.

Indeed, as enterprises enter the post-PC era, they are turning to iFixit to extend the lifespan of their iPads and Android smartphones along with their PCs. Half of the iFixit’s sales are to IT departments, said Wiens.

“We love IT guys, all of the guys we hang out with are IT guys,” he said.

I interviewed Wiens at Macworld iWorld last week, where he shared his recommendations on how companies can keep mobile gadgets going for as long as possible.

(Another way to extend your company’s mobile devices as long as possible: actively encourage your employees to install games like Angry Birds on them.)

1) Train your IT department to be as good at repairing and upgrading mobile devices as they are at PCs.

Sure, your company may have a service agreement with Apple on top of the regular device warranties, but it will always makes sense to build up in-house expertise to do routine things like replace batteries and more advanced tasks like upgrade components or replace damaged LCD screens and keyboards.

This is key since Lithium-Ion batteries start degrading after a year of recharges (I’m convinced one of the unspoken reasons why BlackBerries remain so popular among IT departments is the fact that their batteries are so easy to replace). And RAM requirements keep increasing, with bigger apps and more sophisticated Web sites.

But what if you don’t have any budget to send your support staff on expensive training courses? Not a problem, says Wiens, who argues that the best way to learn is by doing. At iFixit, newly-hired technicians don’t take any formal training courses. Rather, for two weeks, they sit in front of a PC logged into iFixit’s online repair manuals while taking apart and putting together gadgets. “They have to teach themselves,” Wiens said. 

2) Make sure the devices you buy CAN be upgraded or repaired. This is an example of the tech industry’s attempt to impose “planned obsolescence” and force customers to buy new devices sooner than later, says Wiens, and Apple has long been the industry’s worst offender: putting batteries inside iPhones sealed with proprietary ‘Pentalobular’ screws for which no screwdriver existed (at the time), or soldering the RAM onto the motherboard of MacBook Airs.

Of course, iFixit wouldn’t have a business if Apple devices were easy-peasy to fix and upgrade. And Wiens acknowledges that some of the things that vendors do are in an attempt to comply with legal rules, or to enhance the durability of their gadgets. But he laments them, nevertheless. And he says making devices less repairable is a growing rather than shrinking trend, noting the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX shown at CES. Its 21-hour battery is non-removable.

Hardware upgradeability is only one part of the equation. The other is software and operating system upgrades. Here, Apple is the winner, Wiens says, noting that 2.5 year old iPhone 3GS phones can run the latest iOS 5.

The same cannot be said of Android, he said, noting that many tablet vendors are foregoing the latest Ice Cream Sandwich update even on tablets less than a year old. Samsung is “terrible” in this regard, Wiens said. “What Samsung is telling you is that you can’t trust them.”

In an ideal world, smartphones would be designed “to last as long as the network they are designed for,” Wiens said. That means a device should be designed to last 10 years, and its battery replaced 4-5 times.

That’s the ideal. In the real world, no company will be keeping devices anywhere close to that long, lest they create disgruntled employees. Despite the faster advances in mobile versus PC hardware, he thinks a 3-year lifecycle for smartphones and tablets is do-able. For now, only Apple, not Android vendors, seem able to support that, he said.

3) Demand that your vendors supply high-quality repair documentation. Apple is notoriously shy about releasing detailed manuals for its gadgets. Vendors like Dell, HP and Lenovo have traditionally been diligent about releasing documentation, though, Wiens says, “it’s not very good.” Android vendors, on the other hand, have been poor at delivering documentation.

iFixit has stepped in by creating a web site called Dozuki that lets vendors create photo-heavy documentation in the style of iFixit’s own repair manuals.





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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.


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4 Biggest Risks In NOT Using Social Media

April Crichlow

These days social media is critical for success in business. Early adopters have made great strides, using it to engage with customers online and find new clients. For the laggards — typically small businesses that think they don’t have the resources or need for social media — the question looms: “Is social media a fad, or is it here to stay?”

Unfortunately for these companies, social media is here to stay. There are four major risks in not using social platforms as a business tool:

  1. You risk being out of the loop. Social media is a key channel for consumers collecting information and connecting with other consumers. It is also a great opportunity for companies to engage with current customers, as well as potential customers, all over the world. By not using social media, you run the risk of losing customers, credibility, and crucial information that can benefit your business. Even if you choose not to actively participate in discussions, you need be aware and stay informed regarding conversations about your company. Don’t stick your head in the ground and hope for social media to “blow on by.”
  1. You can’t respond to negative comments about your business. When customers are not satisfied with your product or service, one of the first things many will do is complain on Twitter or Facebook, or they will write a bad review online. If you are not actively keeping tabs on these discussions and reviews, they can hurt your reputation and cost you potential business. How can you protect your brand if you don’t know what’s being said about it online? Social media is now the default platform for customer service. Instead of calling an 800 number, consumers want to send businesses a tweet or post something on a Facebook page. When they can’t find you online, they will go to a review site such a Yelp or Merchant Circle to complain and warn other customers. However, if they have a relationship with your company, they are much less likely to take such actions and will instead send you an email or a private message about the problem.
  1. You risk missing the positive comments about your business. Customers also leave positive feedback online about companies with which they do business. However, if they believe their comments won’t be read by the companies they are praising, satisfied customers are less likely to leave feedback.
  1. You risk giving your competitors an unfair advantage. If your competitors are active on social media and you are not, your rivals have a leg up on winning business from potential customers. You don’t allow for comparisons and can’t answer questions in real time. Unless your product or service is overwhelmingly superior, this is one risk you cannot afford to take!

Social media is an excellent forum to participate in discussions happening right now about your business and your industry. Building an active presence on social sites offers numerous opportunities to promote your products and services, provide outlets for customer service, and check up on your competition. It’s not too late to start using social media as a business tool…but one day soon, it might be.

If you are an SAP partner and would like to learn more about this topic, join me on Dec 1st for How to Spend 15 Minutes a Day on Social Without Breaking a Sweat. Register now: (s-user) #SAPMarketingAcademy


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