Bring Your Own BlackBerry -- And Pay for It, Too!
J.P. Morgan Chase takes multiple IT-focused initiatives to cut costs.
Last week, before J.P. Morgan Chase announced its third-quarter earnings results, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal with the title, "J.P. Morgan to Some Employees: Pay for Your Own Phone." In response to increased financial pressure brought on by new banking regulations and persistently low interest rates, J.P. Morgan Chase is telling employees that they'll have to start paying for their own BlackBerry devices. This is one of a few initiatives the bank is taking to cut costs.
When the third-quarter earnings results were announced, quarterly profits actually increased 22% thanks to a big tax benefit, but trading revenues were down 15%. However, a lot of the cost-cutting ideas we've been tossing around have made it onto the potential chopping block.
I'm sure that many of the bankers are crying on their Gucci loafers about having to get their manager's approval to stay in five-star hotels like the St. Regis in New York or Claridge's in London, but a lot of the cost-cutting measures seemed to be aimed at IT costs.
From the sounds of it, the bank is heading for a program of non-reimbursed bring your own device (BYOD). According to the WSJ, the device policy changes will mean that there are restrictions on what email can be accessed on BlackBerry devices, and employees who want to keep a BlackBerry will need to pay for their data plans themselves. While iPhones and other devices have taken a large piece of the mobile pie, BlackBerry remains relevant. In fact, WSJ cited a BlackBerry spokeswoman who said that the company's clients include the largest banks and all G-7 governments. This is good news for BlackBerry, as it shows that there are still markets where BlackBerry's unique security capabilities are required.
The cost cutting measures go beyond BYOD. The bank is reportedly experimenting with what they call "ratio seating," for employees to share desks with people who work different shifts or move between company locations. It is also looking at relocating some employees to lower cost office space. I have to wonder, if that's the case, why not just let them work from home?
One of the more interesting ideas is the possibility of shutting off voicemail. The funny thing is, if they did turn it off, it might be weeks before anyone realized it. I'd never leave a voicemail for my son, because I know he'd never listen to it. He'd simply see that I called and call me back ... eventually.
When I think of voicemail, images of Gordon Gekko's Motorola DynaTAC phone, the world's first handheld mobile phone, immediately spring to mind. With the ascendance of text, both mobile and desktop, the idea of leaving a voice message seems about as likely as sending someone a fax.
If the cost cutting trend is hitting the financial industry, it means that profligate spending is in full rout. For those of us in IT, pushing back against the trend is not going to be a winning strategy. We better be ready to support the idea of retiring non-essential technologies while still securing funding for the productivity producing tools our users really need.
If you have any comments, leave me a voicemail, I'll be at the Claridge's.