Take 5: How To Better Manage Mobility In Your Organization - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
3/21/2007
11:10 AM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
Commentary
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Take 5: How To Better Manage Mobility In Your Organization

Welcome to Take 5, a new feature on Over The Air. In each edition of Take 5, we will sit down with a key industry insider -- a CIO or IT manager, consultant, vendor, or analyst -- and ask them five (or more) key questions about business mobility. In today's edition, I sat down with David Wise, co-founder and managing partner for mindWireless, a mobility consultancy that helps businesses figure out how to better us

Welcome to Take 5, a new feature on Over The Air. In each edition of Take 5, we will sit down with a key industry insider -- a CIO or IT manager, consultant, vendor, or analyst -- and ask them five (or more) key questions about business mobility. In today's edition, I sat down with David Wise, co-founder and managing partner for mindWireless, a mobility consultancy that helps businesses figure out how to better use wireless technologies. Our theme for this edition: How can IT managers create a comprehensive plan for mobility?What is the best way for a company to review its current cell phone usage and policies?

Start with the internal wireless policy -- if it exists. Many companies don't have one. If you don't have a wireless policy, this has to be the starting point.

Next, the company should request a copy of its billing data form the carrier in electronic form -- all of the carriers will provide this, generally at no charge, on a monthly basis. From there, they can begin to analyze the data -- which needs to be done on an ongoing basis.

A lot of companies use split liability when it comes to both cell phones and calling plans -- i.e. they let the employee buy their own device and wireless plan, then reimburse the employees on a monthly basis. Is this the best way for a company to offer its employees wireless service?

A split liability policy is not the best way for a company to manage wireless programs. When employees submit their bills for payment, they end up getting most (and typically all of it) paid for by the company. And employees choose their own rate plans, which are generally more expensive than if the company were to have a negotiated rate plan based on employee needs. Employees are bad at choosing the most cost-effective rate plans. They select the rate plan which is best for them personally (free family calling) or fall into the marketing gimmicks (roll over minutes, etc.).

Another issue here relates to security. If employees own their own data device, such as a BlackBerry, then they can take company information with them when they leave a company. The employer has no control over that information because the employee owns the device. If employees use corporate-liable devices, then the company can track the device, and if an employee leaves, retain that device with its information.

Lastly, billing options which are the most cost effective, such as pooling and sharing, are not available via personal liable accounts. Only by implementing a corporate liable program can an enterprise take advantage of these volume discounts.

Companies which utilize individual liable (IL) vs. corporate liable (CL) pay on average 30-40% more than companies which utilize a CL program.

How can an IT department begin to think about forming a device management strategy?

Key factors to consider are asset management, cost management, security, rate plan management, cost allocation and end-user support. Companies have the insource/outsource consideration.

Device management should cover five areas:

1. Enrollment -- Knowing what you have -- identifying who has what and with which carrier. One of our clients began with the assumption that they had 8,000 to 15,000 devices, but they only had good knowledge where 2,000 of them belonged. We call this function employee enrollment -- essentially surveying employees to identify who has what device.

2. Procurement Management -- Controlling the way new devices are brought into the organization. This includes selecting preferred vendors and the company selecting the rate plans. All new devices should come on as corporate liable so they can be managed by the company.

3. Billing Management -- Actively manage rate plans. It's a company device and there are significant cost advantages (30-40%) to actively managing rate plans. Options such as pooling and sharing can further reduce costs (50% in some cases).

4. End User Support -- Devices have evolved from a "cell phone" to a "smartphone" with access to significant, secure and confidential company information. Carrier support is not know for being stellar, so companies often choose to provide a resource for problem resolution other than the carriers -- especially one that supports a companies policies and practice.

5. Strategic Management -- Migrating telecom/IT from "fire fighting" to "strategic thinking." Offloading the day-to-day carrier problems (whether insourced or outsourced) allows telecom/IT management to focus on realizing the true benefits wireless can bring to an organization (i.e. location based services, workflow management, digital paper, etc.).

What are the three most common mistakes most IT departments make in terms of managing their employees' mobile devices?

They don't manage the devices at all -- by doing this they end up paying 30-50 percent more on their wireless program. Many firms have deployed the "don't ask don't tell" methodology -- if I don't manage it then no one knows it a problem.

They try to manage a wireless program on their own (going it alone). There is significant specialized wireless expense management knowledge and capability available in the marketplace. Leveraging lessons learned from others provides better results in shorter timeframes. Also, the rate plan game is a highly complex mathematical puzzle -- it requires specialized knowledge and data. You could change your own oil, but why wait until you have time and figure out how to dispose of it yourself.

And the third most common mistake is going with individual liability rather than corporate. With individual liable programs, a company assumes that employees are responsible and will make the best decision with their wireless. Going the IL route closes the door on "business" rate plans, business discounts and the ability to manage devices. It also raises security issues when these employees leave the company, taking devices and data with them.

How long until mobile e-mail becomes the must-have, mission critical mobile business application across the enterprise?

It depends on the enterprise. For many of our customers, it's already there. Some have an 80% Blackberry penetration rate with new devices. With others, it's still reserved as the executive privilege. We do see that once a company deploys mobile e-mail they never go back (similar with notebook cards although still pricey).

Bonus Question: Right now most companies think two things when they think mobility: Voice and push e-mail. In your experience, how are companies looking beyond these two core applications? Today what are the two most common apps beyond e-mail companies are mobilizing?

We're seeing GPS and/or location based solutions. Eliminating even a single truck (car, hearse) roll per month (and more frequently per day) provides tremendous ROI. But to do this strategic deployment, you must first know what you have and with whom.

We're also seeing digital paper -- eliminating paper based processes for field employees. Whether its credit cards in the field, digital form entry of data or access to documentation or instructions.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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