This page is specifically for Microsoft 365 / Exchange Professionals managing 100 or More Users
What’s missing from smartphones on Microsoft 365?
Exchange Admin goes from “irrelevant” to fixing a big source of friction for “C” level execs and all smartphone users.
Allen’s company had a dozen Exchange Servers and he was the one in charge of installing, patching, and administration of these servers. Two years ago, he built a Hybrid server for Exchange. The initial plan was to migrate just offices in Asia and South America to 365. That went so well that management wanted all mailboxes on Office 365. Ten months later, 1100 mailboxes were migrated.
All servers were decommissioned except for the Hybrid Exchange Server. After working like a demon for 30 days straight, Allen was relieved to finish and take a week of comp time.
During his well-earned time off, there was one recurring thought that created some distress. For the last five years, Allen had such a narrow focus on Exchange Server administration that he inadvertently engineered himself out of a job. It was a full-time job to manage a dozen servers; now there is just one Exchange server and it doesn’t even have any users on it.
How could Allen once again become a key contributor? First, he had to be part of the bottom line. His projects would have to make money, save money, or save the time of other employees. Especially VIP’s and execs.
Allen proposed some ideas to his manager. She was pleased with his initiative and they came up with a list of projects.
He scored big with one of his first projects. A while back he had abandoned a PowerShell script that was to optimize smartphone address books by copying the Global Address List to each users’ Exchange mailbox. This request came from the CEO because of a few different pain points.
The first problem had to do with inbound calls to the CEO’s mobile phone. Specifically, when there is no contact in the address book that matches the caller. This became an obstacle in three different situations:
- When a call comes in – it’s a real time interruption, he won’t (and should not) spend time answering unrecognized numbers.
- A few minutes later, the unrecognized number is in the list of voicemails. One of many voice messages that the CEO doesn’t recognize and will probably gloss over.
- Perhaps the next morning when the CEO stares at his phone log, the unrecognized number is just noise. He can act on it, or delete it, or ignore it. His action? Swipe Left. Delete.
How many urgent calls does the CEO ignore because the caller is missing from the address book? Could one urgent call in twenty be the beginning of a dumpster fire?
This problem is almost identical for inbound text messages. An anonymous text message can be a huge distraction. Over 50% of the context of a short message is derived from knowing the identity of the person sending the message. When your schedule is booked solid for ten hours, the last thing you want to do is guess who is texting you.
In the opposite direction, making calls and sending text messages is just as important to be able to quickly reach key staff members. It wasn’t that long ago that the CFO nearly “had a cow” when he tried desperately to reach the payroll manager. It turned out that his address book had multiple missing or incorrect phone numbers.
The problem is that no one wants to take the time in advance to personally edit contacts in their address book. Can you blame them?
To repeat the assertion: Without full contact details in your smartphone address book, it’s too hard to differentiate between urgent calls and spam. Missing or incorrect phone numbers is terrible when urgency strikes.
So, the CEO wanted all 1100 contacts in his address book. At that point, Caller ID would be meaningful and show the name of the sender and their photo. With a properly populated address book, inbound phone calls will also show the name, photo, job title, office location, and department of the caller. Perfect!
That’s where Allen’s PowerShell script was going to be used. Only it got really complicated. Finding daily contact changes wasn’t so practical so the script was doing mass deletion and recreation of the contact subfolder. That’s about 30MB of sync traffic per day to 1100 smartphones. Then he realized that Microsoft Outlook Mobile app didn’t sync sub–folders so he had to mix the 1100 contacts in to existing user contacts. There would be duplicates. It would be really hard to perform contact updates and there wasn’t an easy way to just wipe all of the items in the default contacts folder. This might result in a user to losing some personal contacts (not a good thing to do on “C” level execs.) That project was abandoned for good reasons.
This was where Allen had his big win. He started researching SaaS solutions that might be better, faster and cheaper than the PowerShell script. Here is where he discovered other people faced the same problem, and better yet, there were customers use cases.
He did ultimately demo and implement this solution. “C” level execs were very keen to sponsor this project. He calculated that the company’s ROI on this solution was $10 for each $1 spent.
It was an effortless win for Allen. Projects like that can build his relevancy quickly.