At this very moment, every company on the planet is trying to find ways to reduce cost. A creative and innovative member of the Directory Server team at Sun has come up with a way to do just that using the iPhone and LDAP. I am about to plagiarize from Ludo’s blog post located here so please read it for more detail on how Anton put this solution together. I am going to focus on the business angle of this important innovation using LDAP. Again, I hope David Kearns is reading because this is really what "Pimping Your Directory" is all about.
More and more companies are having to support mobile workforces or employees that work a portion of their time at home. Sun has been one of the leaders in this space. Not only does it improve productivity but it gives knowledgeworkers more empowerment thus improving their quality of work and life and thus loyalty to the company that employs them. However, the tools that support these workers have been slow to catch-up. Company Directories are a good example. How many times do employees call the 1-800 number to get an employee number to make a phone call on the road? As a consultant, I used to do this all the time. As a Sun employee, I have used this feature more than once while traveling to different trade shows, between offices, etc. This ties up valuable resources who could be routing real customer calls! I have realized this paradox but when you have to get something done you go through the path of least resistance. And, let’s face it voice portals have not replaced human beings in either efficiency or effectiveness.
Here is where the innovator at Sun, Anton Bobrov, filled the gap. The Sun IT and Directory Teams recognized this gap a long time ago and placed a limited version of the employee directory outside the firewall. It is a great tool if you have a web browser and don’t want to VPN into the network. However, Anton realized there was a better solution via the iPhone. He has developed an iPhone App that is an LDAP browser that allows employees to connect to this Directory outside the firewall and quickly search, find an employee and make the phone call from one device. My vote for iPhone App of the Year would be for the LDAP app by Zen and our very own Anton Bobrov.
The Business Case
So hypothetically, using Company A with 33,000 employees as an example, imagine 5% of employees have an iPhone. Imagine that same 5% make one phone call a week or 52 calls per year to the 1-800 number to get a phone call. Imagine each call takes 2 min of productivity away from the call center employee then this simple application could save approximately 2,860 hours. Put another way this is 1.43 FTE per year worth of productivity.
|Number of Employees||
|Percent that have iPhone||
|Number of Employees with iPhone||
|Number of calls made per year to 1-800 per week by one employee||52 calls per year per employee|
|Total number of calls made in a year||85,800 calls per year|
|Total number of hours taken (avg time per search 2 min)||2,860 hours|
|Number of Employees Needed to Cover this Task (50 weeks * 40 hours)||1.43 FTE’s|
Please see Ludo’s blog for more detail on how the app works and what Anton did to build it. His bog is located here.
How do you get it?
Go to the App Store and seach "LDAP". You want to download the Zen version for $3.99. Refer to the cost savings table above if you balk at the price. Here are the configuration details for Sun’s directory, as described in Ludo’s blog here.
Here’s the settings that I’ve used (once you’ve installed the Directory application, there is a "Directory" section in the Settings application).
Identity: cn=John Smith (12345),ou=people,dc=sun,dc=com
[your Sun ID should be enclosed in brackets and watch the spaces]
Password: My Sun password
(Keep the remaining untouched).
How do I get one for my company?
If you are employee at a company that has a large mobile workforce you should show this blog post to an IT Director, Call Center Director, or someone who can make this project happen. This is a quick win for most companies in improving productivity. You can use DSEE or OpenDS with replication to create the directory instance outside the firewall. Publish a configuration guide for employees and start improving productivity.