A Short Story About I.T. “Professionals”

Rant

This is a rant.

I work for a regional investment consulting firm with over 8 billion dollars in assets under advisement, over 90 institutional clients, and 35 employees. I am the director of business development there and our firm recently selected a new I.T. vendor to help us with some hosted applications, a file server, some network printing, and the like. (For anyone who thinks my job sounds cool, please PM me and I will relieve you of that mistaken idea.)

My job isn't THIS bad...
My job isn’t THIS bad…

Our company recently had a conference call with the vendor where we went over the DNS (domain name server) cut-over plans, part of which covered using email with mobile devices. I was participating on ‘mute,’ expecting that I would not be required to contribute anything as I am merely a user and since I don’t participate in the hosted applications or managed desktop environments, my requirements are few. I was leaving the bathroom, talking with a guy in our building when my name was called, so I touched the mute button between the volume buttons on my Z10 and asked what was needed of me. One of the I.T. consultants asked if I was still using a BlackBerry and I told them I was. They commented about how I could get my email and I told them I have been using MS Exchange server for the past few years and since they were going to continue with that, I would just need the domain name and server address and I should be fine. Then they asked why I was still using BlackBerry to which I replied that I didn’t think the partners of my firm wanted to spend time on the call discussing this (our entire company was on the call), but that BB10 is the most secure, efficient mobile OS available and I said I expect BBRY to be around for a long time to come. Someone mumbled something in the background and then one of the consultants said “it’s nice to talk with the last living BBRY user,” and the consultants had a hearty laugh and we moved on to another topic.

Shout out to the Z10! I still use it and love it!
Shout out to the Z10! I still use it and love it!

I am an introvert, which according to the inventor of the term, Carl Jung PhD, means in part that I process emotions more slowly than others, and I found myself frustrated initially and then getting progressively more angry until I was almost irate about 20 minutes later. I sat down at my computer and contacted the firm via their website and asked for the names of the people on the call. Shortly thereafter, I received a note from someone claiming to be our account rep and he gave me the names and email addresses of the three consultants. I sat down fuming and wrote the email you see below, word for word, having only changed the names of the people and my company. I looked at it and edited it and looked at it some more. I tried to make sure I was striking the appropriate balance of being firm but also being professional. This is what I ended up with.

Hello

During our conference call earlier today, I was asked “why I still use a BlackBerry” by Steve or John and then was told by Jane that “it’s nice to talk with the last remaining BlackBerry user,” while everyone had a laugh at my expense. My issue was not with the initial question “Why do you use BlackBerry,” because that may have been a sincere one, I don’t know. My issue is with how the question was handled immediately afterwards.

There are many thoughts I have on this, but I don’t have a lot of time to enumerate and expand on them, however, I am going to be quite candid with you, as your customer, and share some thoughts.

1) It is utterly unprofessional to attempt to humiliate me in this manner. Who do you think you are? Do you really want to discuss the technical merits of the BB10 platform vs iOS or the Android operating systems? If so, I am ready for that discussion. Clearly that is not why you asked the question, because you would not have done so during that public call. Do you support BB10 or not? If not, why haven’t I been told? If so, why do you ask the question? If someone wants to talk technologically about the different mobile platforms, that is a fun discussion to have. What happened on the call this morning was ridicule for using a platform the general (uninformed) public believes is “dead.”

2) As an I.T. “Professional,” I would expect you to be more informed. BB10 is the most secure, efficient mobile OS on the market today. It supports over 90% of all Android apps, which are easily downloadable through the Amazon app store, which comes pre-loaded on BB10 devices. The time when BBRY was behind technologically has long since passed. Current BB10 devices are far superior; BBRY’s market share issue in the US is not one of technology, it’s one of marketing and mindshare. (If you have any questions about my claims regarding BB10, feel free to ask)

3) As an “independent” I.T. services firm, you should be platform neutral. I spent several years with a large, multinational I.T. firm, supporting several larger customers in the banking, finance and securities industries as a very small cog in the marketing division. Even though we offered branded hardware and software, we still needed to be sensitive to disparaging what a customer was already using. When you disparage a person’s decision you disparage the person. I have been using email via the MS exchange server for the several years I have been with this firm. If you believe my choice puts the [my company] system in jeopardy then speak up, otherwise, you shouldn’t care what phone I use; be quiet and do your job.

There is NO action I want you to take at this point because I don’t want my personal dissatisfaction to have any impact on the overall work your firm is doing for [my company]. In the big picture, this is an irrelevant issue since I will easily be able to continue using my phone. However, I would suggest you consider what I’ve said for future engagements. It is not unusual for technology people to require customer service training.

James

I thought I gave it to them good!
I thought I gave it to them good!

I hit send and waited for the fireworks. Leaving out some minor drama with some back and forth regarding whether a help desk ticket needed to be opened, and several phone calls and hangups made to my office phone, I finally received a call a few hours later from their President and CEO who was very apologetic and embarrassed. He said he believed and supported “every word in my email,” and that “nothing like this will ever happen again.” He claimed his firm absolutely supports BlackBerry and that “this language is in all [their] contracts,” and said his people have been reprimanded and that they will get the customer service training I mentioned they probably needed. Basically, he said all the things I would have said in the same position and he did it in a very serious and sincere fashion.

Personal Assurance

This story has a quasi-happy ending for me, but the larger issue is one that I know none of you serious BBRY fans are surprised to hear, which is, a solid I.T. Services company has consultants running around who have a negative attitude about BlackBerry and apparently ostracizing BBRY users! I am quite confident those consultants at this particular company will no longer be engaging in this stupid and unethical behavior, but if I didn’t respond so strongly, maybe they still would! How many other firms are there like this and how many other I.T. “professionals” are discouraging people from using the BBRY platform!? And if Gellar, as big an iDiot as he is, or CB, or Not4 are going to crap on BBRY, I am not surprised, but an “independent” I.T. consultant!? Jeesh!

Troll-300x291

I guess we all fight the battle for BBRY in our own ways. Just being a member of UTB is a good start! I must say that until I got involved with UTB, I was getting really bad information from ClickBaitBerry and would not have been armed to respond to this situation as confidently as I did. When you encounter these trolls, whether online or in person, and whether they have credentials or are just run-of-the-mill idiots, don’t miss your chance to be as professional as you can but to put them in their place! Call them out for being idiots!

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.

  • rzanger

    I got 50 bucks out of Bestbuy last year after dealing with a dumbass salesperson when my partner was buying a Q10. God I love email lol. I must admit that experience was what drove us to buy our Passports online from Shopblackberry. Have to wait for 2 weeks for the second one even though they were readily available at the local Bestbuy.

    • Good show rzanger. It’s amazing what an email will do nowadays. No one can afford to ignore social media and customer issues because everyone will find out! I hear you on waiting for the phone via shopBlackBerry. It’d a tough call cause if you bought it from Best Buy maybe they would sense there is demand and stock more and train up their people.

  • ital1

    James, you did BlackBerry a service by responding in the professional manner in which you did; hopefully this firm learned from their mistake and won’t repeat this type of unprofessional behaviour. However, what I really hope they do is take their business a little more seriously and keep abreast of mobile technology as a whole; it is their business to know mobile technology, not just one platform.

    • Thanks ital1! It seems maybe at least they did learn the lesson of not ostracizing BlackBerry users.

  • Anthony

    Great article. Those 3 consultants were entirely unprofessional and I hope the reprimand is harsh.

    It’s true, they showed their ignorance of current tech and this could easily lead to the question “are these guys and gals the right IT people for our firm”. They’re lucky it was only a reprimand.

    locco_smiley_10

    • Yes Anthony, and thanks! They definitely are not informed on BBRY, which is to say, they don’t have a good grasp of the mobile options our firm could use. I honestly don’t know whether that will change, but I am not in the position to pursue it farther than I have.

  • royoe

    If the IT service company feels that way about Blackberry, obviously they don’t think much about security. Maybe you should try to steer your company away from them.

    • Hey royoe- I cannot argue with you. But this is a done deal. They spent a lot of time picking this firm and my influence is waning for reasons I can’t mention. Anyway, I will have to be happy that at least I forced them to confront their BS attitude.

  • TRUENORTH

    Well done and well written. My version would have contained a good deal more four letter words and some inventive speculation concerning their parentage.

    • Truenorth! Ha! I like your style. I wish I could have done that, but I had to maintain. None but a BBRY fan can understand the frustration we feel at all the BS we’ve had to endure over the past few years.

  • G-bone

    Good for you, James!
    Well handled. To be ridiculed for using the best computing platform in the world AND in an environment where BlackBerry should be mandatory?
    Well, stupidity seems to be a societal phenomenon.
    You, Sir, on the other hand, conducted yourself as the superior person that you are!

    #RollingThunder

    • G-bone! Thanks a bunch! Although I don’t feel I deserve such compliment. Anyway, it seems some of what I said sank in, so I’m counting this as a victory for me and BBRY, albeit a small one.

      • G-bone

        You do deserve it.
        You said what you said eloquently and professionly.
        They said what they said in a very base and unprofessional manner.
        As children we. Always expect adults to be on a higher level. Then we grow up and find that ‘adults’ are all too frequently existing on such a base level that you wonder at the survival of the species!
        You, sir, are to be commended for striking back in such a way as to elevate both yourself and your beliefs, and to expose the self-abasers for what they are – pusilinamous children.
        Your focus and restraint are beyond what I might have achieved in the same circumstances.
        I salute you!
        I have no choice.

        #RollingThunder

  • Blackjack

    Short story from James? Not likely. Ha ha.
    So you put up a long tirade and get 12 comments, I put up a beautiful pic of a female with a Passport and get half that. What’s going on here, am hanging out with nerds? :P

  • Blackjack

    Oh 6 are from the author. I get it now. Cheating!

    • I like to reply and converse with people who comment. It’s fun. Sue me! :P

  • Blackjack

    OK james I did my homework and actual read it. (I save yours for when I have a movie to watch.

    Awesome work. It takes cajones to be the only one standing up for BlackBerry, especially when it’s your profession, and you know people are thinking you’re stupid to use this platform. I would have done the same. But I have big cajones.

    You handled it very professionally and well enough to get a response. I’m not sure I would have that amount of self control.

    The”laugher” must have been some smug punk smartass.
    I would want his head on a platter. What he said was truly inappropriate, and you were right to call him on it. You also did them a service.

    • Thanks for those kind words BJ. I really did my best and spent some time on that email. I did not involve my firm’s partners and did not even involve the consultant’s managers. I went straight to them and they were required to report it to their boss who contacted me. It seems maybe I was able to effect some change in their organization for the benefit of BlackBerry and for that I am really pleased.

  • Raider113

    I think you may have hit on why so many hacks of large companies. These people are confused by the shiny new (now old) technology of apple and android they’ve mistaken it for security. Which is what caused BBRYs down fall. They didn’t think large companies and many people to be stupid enough to comprise themselves. Boy was BBRY wrong and me included. There are that many stupid people in high places leading the group. Guess we’re just not with the program.

    • Yes Raider, I agree. There are more uninformed people out there than you could believe. When I first got involved with UTB and the UTB illuminati would share with me some links from different bloggers and technology writers, etc, my eyes started opening to the sorry state of affairs regarding these “experts.” I was particularly disgusted to see some of my more favored outlets like Bloomberg and Wall St Journal employing or sanctioning “analysts” like Gellar and that WSJ chick who recently gave the Passport a shitty review that was completely subjective and useless.

      Oh well, it just makes UTB more special and certainly gives Biggs and Brad lot’s of fodder!

  • Vorkosigan

    Bravo! That was well done James. I was very impressed by the no nonsense tone of your email and the points you raised.

    While it’s upsetting to even have to do that, I’m so glad there are people like you that are willing to stand up and not let the stupidity of this ‘BlackBerry is dead’ stuff continue.

    • Thank you Vorkosigan! Very much. That was not an easy email to write and it seemed to get the response I wanted.

  • Alan

    Very cool James. It had to be done, and you did it with Aces! Feels good to support our BlackBerry when it warrants being supported eh? This goes beyond just mere support, these people were completely out of line in several important professional and human areas. Also nice to have gotten the back up response from your boss eh? A great day for having stepped up to do the right thing James. Bravo. You have given Power were power belongs with the voice of Clarity, and Sanity. It was and is a hero moment by my book. :)

  • bartron

    You did well. You were far more professional and softer on them than I would have been, though. But then again, I’m not in management, and that’s probably why I’m not in management. :-) In fact, that’s exactly why I would not survive in management.

    I would have said something like “Are you suggesting that our enterprise, which has enterprise needs, should stop using phones that are designed for enterprises, and start using phones that are most popular among consumers because it meets their consumer needs ?”. I would have also asked them how the phones they were suggesting you use would best meet your company’s needs, and how your BB10 phone doesn’t meet your company’s needs.

    Basically, I would have asked questions to get them to justify their statement and thus expose their ignorance. By doing that, you would have walked them to the point where they realized what they said was ridiculous and you would have caused them to expose their ignorance themselves. Of course, they’d probably call you an asshole afterwards, but they’ll also learn from the experience and not do it again.

    What they did was bully you. I know exactly how that feels. I’ve been bullied at two of the last 3 jobs I’ve had. I’ve been on sick leave for the last 5 years because of bullying that started at work. Yes, I’m an introvert too, and I understand exactly what you felt, since I’ve been there many times too. The people at my work are very extroverted (they behaved like introverts in the interviews, which is why I accepted the job offer.) In fact, the entire city is very extroverted, and the most extroverted in the country. As soon as the mess I’m in gets settled, hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll be leaving this place for good.

    • Bartron. Thanks a lot. I agree with your comments about asking questions. However, on that call, that conversation would have been cut off. That was not the point of the call, it was a complete tangent. I knew my boss didn’t want to go into that, so I left my response short. The truth is, they caught me by surprise. In any event, some change appears to have been effected, so I’m happy about that.

      I’m sorry to hear about the bullying you’ve had to suffer and I hope you’re able to work through it. If you’re ever interested in learning about Type, including introversion and extraversion, I am certified to administer the MBTI and would be happy to work with you a little on it. Type can be a very useful lens to view yourself and others through. Just PM me.

  • shanerredflag

    Well done James, great job indeed. locco_smiley_10 locco_smiley_10

  • jrohland

    With the advantage from many hours of thought, I like to believe I could have responded with something like; So you don’t feel security is important? It leaves me to wonder how deeply your firm should be permitted into our IT systems. I would not like to imagine unauthorized access to our customer records by way of your Android or iPhone. It wouldn’t take more than a few moments on DuckDuckGo.com to find the relative security between BlackBerry and other mobile systems.

    • Hey jrohland. Thanks for the duckduckgo.com reference. I hadn’t heard of it and have added it to my websites folder so I can use it in the future. Anonymous searching; what a novel idea.

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