Can you even remember a time when you went to work without a phone in your hand? How did people reach us? How did we schedule meetings? Smartphones and tablets have become some of our most important work tools, no matter what job we have or who we are. Whether it’s a Girl Scout selling cookies or a CEO selling CRMs, the typical smartphone user checks their phone almost 100 times per day.
Even though we see these tools as a very personal extension of ourselves, we don’t fully understand the trappings of our contracts, or why our rates and speeds shift and have no real understanding of our required data usage versus our allowances. At work, we see devices as employee tools but also as an employee’s device, each with separate restrictions, allowances and rates.
There are many ways of dealing with these challenges when it comes to implementing, managing and maintaining an Enterprise Mobility Program, yet so many solutions are hidden from us. Why? Quite frankly because hidden profit centres pepper mobility plans and drives huge revenues. So, how can you build (or rebuild) and successful mobility program that works cross-functionally throughout your organization, benefiting everyone—including your bottom line? The answer is by accepting what’s available to you.
Moving beyond what we think we know, there are three areas to consider when looking for the right enterprise-wide strategy with your mobile devices:
- Optimization and Savings
- Deployment Best Practices
Read on this article to discover the five secret considerations.
Table of Contents
Building a universal program
How can an enterprise implement a universal program that meets each business units’ unique needs? Procurement tells you that they are trapped with each provider. IT exclaims that they are burdened with deployment and afraid of changing plans. And finance, quite frankly, doesn’t fully understand the hundreds of invoices they receive and they certainly don’t have time to analyze each of them. The big carriers often can’t address the entire organization’s needs because their focus is offering large prepackaged solutions to large enterprises. But when the entire organization is looked at as a collection of departments with individual needs, a wider array of benefits can be achieved by offering customized solutions designed specifically to help each department.
Recently there has been a paradigm shift within Enterprise Mobility Programs as various business units are demanding more benefits from their organization’s mobility program. Companies are beginning to wake up, finally. Finance is asking, “Why can’t all of our company phones’ data be grouped to avoid costly data overage charges?” IT is now asking, “Why can’t mobile devices come preloaded with certain apps and block others from being installed?” HR and Procurement ask, “Why can’t my employees open their new company phones ready to use, right out of their boxes?” Your answer to these questions, is, “They can.” And, when you demand from your provider these things, you can have more control and save a lot of money. So, let’s uncover the secrets right now.
Moving beyond what we think we know, there are three areas to consider when looking for the right enterprisewide strategy with your mobile devices:
- Optimization and Savings
- Deployment Best Practices
Optimization & Savings
Secret #1: The best deal isn’t always the best.
Unlimited plans and unwarranted costs
The big carriers only recently decided to offer “unlimited plans.” This seems like a good deal. But, if you believe that your company is truly getting the data it needs for the lowest price, you really ought to uncover your true needs versus your assumed need for unlimited data.
The truth is that the big carriers are trying their best to do the least and get the most. Data “deprioritization” is a new word in the wireless industry and it has become the carrier’s way of limiting the “unlimited.” Every single carrier’s unlimited data plan breaks the promise of unlimited high speed (4G LTE) data with this qualification: data deprioritization allows the carrier to slow down your speeds. Instead of treating their highest-paid customers better, they slow down their data when they use it. And with large organizations, the shell game doesn’t stop there. Most companies think that with unlimited data, they can set it and forget it. That’s where an aggregator mobility company can help: the right provider will help you uncover hidden or sleight-of-hand charges and eliminate them rather than profiting from them.
One such clandestine profit centre is paying for the “unlimited data” when you don’t need it. Data hogs are those who use a disproportionate amount of a group’s total data. They can be the one bad swimmer that spoils the whole pool. The notion of unlimited data seems to override the need for data pooling, right? But this is where the model breaks down. To uncover your actual data needs, you need to look at your highest users and your lowest users, and the extremes can be shocking. One MetTel customer underwent a deep usage evaluation (identifying all users and how much data each user consumed over a set period). MetTel’s platform uncovered that several users within the organization of 400 used 200-300GB per month. For this company, the average data use was around 17 GB but when you looked at the mean use (normalized for the excessiveness of a few), it dropped the actual average usage to about 1-2 GB.
So, essentially, this company chose to go into an unlimited data plan because they thought it was a better deal and they paid dearly for it. In reality, their data was being used to support a few employees’ side businesses.
You might think that this is an exaggeration or a rare case. “Not so,” says Max Silber, VP of Mobility for MetTel. “We see this daily. Companies want to give their employees the tools and means to thrive, but again and again, we see that the top 25 data users skew the necessary requirements for pooled data in groups as large as 10,000. You must have a way to identify your data hogs and find out why they are using up your data and change their behavior.”
A quick evaluation of the data usage and cost for data showed that this company’s real costs for choosing the unlimited plan were nearly 40% more than it actually could have been saving. Data plans need to be purchased thoughtfully and measuredly as a direct solution for your company.
Cross-carrier plans = Cost-savings
Another new tool often overlooked by today’s enterprises and especially SMBs is the ability to have cross-carrier plans. Cross-carrier plans are not available by the individual top-tier carriers. But, there are a few aggregator mobility companies that purchase in bulk from the tier-one carriers, at lower prices, and then offer these bulk purchases in amassed packages from multiple carriers to their customers. The simple fact is that very few companies use only AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile (soon to be one and the same) as their sole carrier. Nor should they. The highest saving can be achieved with lumping together all your mobile devices and plans. And, what’s even more beneficial is that when you work with the right aggregator, you can have one invoice and one point of contact for customer service and support in addition to having one big data pool.
This all seems well and good, but how could you ever spend the time, energy and manpower to uncover such a level of detail with your mobile users, and monitor, measure and manage them all?
Secret #2: The platform’s the thing.
Proactive analytics and reporting
Gaining insight into spending patterns, variances and forecasts by your location, region, state or systemwide is now possible. Any of your configurations can be accommodated, parsed and understood. If your carrier tells you that this is impossible, find another provider.
So, how is it possible?
First, you should only be paying one invoice for all your devices and plans. Having one invoice across all your carries and locations is not only good for your AP department, but it’s also a necessary part of completely controlling your devices. There are some good TEM systems out there that provide centralized invoicing, but only a few really good ones. The good systems move beyond just telecom. The best ones provide an ultra-customizable, user-centric software platform that increases your productivity by giving users direct access to what your employees need to work more efficiently. Don’t think that you’ll need to learn a whole new way of doing things because the best platforms are tailored to your requirements, the way you want to use them.
Some allow you to make configurations based on your unique organizational structure and your organization’s individual needs. Some platforms fully integrate with your existing internal accounts payable systems. So, for something like “bill paying,” account coding can be defined by cost centres, GL codes, or other variables that are meaningful to you. You can define rules with your organizational hierarchy to establish exacting restrictions for visibility, activity, and approvals. And, user preferences can allow you to create custom monthly reports to record everything from variances, usage, and spend, to ticket activity. This way, you can understand exactly how, where, and why money is being spent.
The best platforms automatically search for and flag inactive or over-active devices, both very important to optimize savings. And some can automatically change plans based on set parameters compared to actual usage. Having this automation is unbelievably powerful and will also free up much of your IT department’s time. And, the benefits don’t end there.
Proactive monitoring of usage is essential to controlling costs. Rules can be set up so that notifications can be sent based on crossing various usage thresholds. Users can set their preferences to receive these alerts either by text or email. To help with analysis, some platforms have many built-in features to automatically analyze invoices, and flag discrepancies, such as showing: rising or falling costs by the carrier; lists of unverified devices; invoices that are out of balance; and usage limits that have been exceeded. And as stated, for additional savings, some actually can automatically change plans based on when set parameters are not adhered to.
What’s truly important here is that the reports need to be both automated and then filtered to provide users with just the information that is pertinent to them and their departments. And, to make your employees happier, a little thing like automated upgrade notifications being sent when upgrades become available, can work wonders on morale. Everyone likes a new phone.
Back to flagging users for out-of-pattern usage, Max Silber says, “The top 25 data users are rarely members of the C-suite. They are generally middle management, who are working harder at using up their data than they are working at their jobs. Better analytics means a better way to manage the environment for everyone’s sake.”
The top 25 data users are rarely members of the C-suite. – Max Silber, MetTel
Deployment Best Practices
Secret #3: You must have a customized and integrated device enrollment program: Get your devices your way.
The final things to consider is how you receive each device, literally. Do your devices arrive in their boxes to your IT department so that they have to swivel back and forth, adding apps, and logging into inventory, and scanning bar codes? Not any longer.
Define how you want to receive all new devices and have them delivered your way. From device deployment, approved accessories, custom collateral, and preloading approved apps, you need to be assured that your devices arrive the way you need them, ready to use, right out of the box. Whether you buy 50 or 5,000 smartphones and other devices, you should be treated like a king and not be treated as if you walked into the Verizon, AT&T or Apple store and pulled a number.
Carefully select device management
Once you receive your devices, you will need an ongoing, easy way to continually manage all your devices from one platform. This is a Mobile Device Management (MDM). Gartner defines MDM as “software that provides the following functions: software distribution, policy management, inventory management, security management and service management for smartphones and media tablets.”
When selecting an MDM program, you should insist on automated device recovery or instant device wiping features. In the medical or financial industries, these are a must because of strict regulations. If a device is lost or stolen, all of its data can be wiped remotely with a push of a button, which is perfect for PCI DCI 3.0 and HIPAA compliance. A good MDM program safeguards and secures the data on all your devices. And, you can eliminate expensive unused phones sitting in drawers; you control all your devices so you can easily wipe and redeploy them instantly. Also, now, even Apple products like iPhones, Apple Watches, and iPads, can be reassigned without obtaining former employees’ iCloud log-in credentials. This is a first and only available from very few MDM programs.
Two more secret considerations
Unsurpassed mobility expertise
Whether your enterprise deals with IoT, Fleet, Telehealth, or custom Mobile Apps — you should demand a team of specialists from your provider to guide you to the best solutions for your needs. According to experts, tomorrow’s Enterprise Mobility Management, which includes MDM programs, will be less isolated, and more tightly coupled with broader solutions. Today, EMM landscape includes AirWatch as part of VMware’s Workspace ONE, Microsoft Intune integral to the Office 365 solution, and MaaS 360 as part of IBM’s Mobility First solution. Ultimately, an enterprise will have a variety of EMM or EMM-like solutions operating across a variety of computing platforms.
U.S.-based help desk
Your mobile support should be a priority, not an annoyance. It’s not too much to ask for your customer support teams to create a customized playbook, starting with a dedicated toll-free number, agents that pick up the call as an extension of the corporation’s support desk, and that these agents know your account. This way, little issues can be resolved before they become major problems.
Everyone has a device so everyone should benefit. The best platforms address your need to assist all levels of your organization from the CEO and CFO down to the individual employee.
With the right program and provider, your CEO can make better, necessary business intelligence decisions with the aid of customizable, high-level status reports. Your CFO can glean insight into optimizing business expenditures from the corporate level down to the individual P&L centres. Your IT department can collect detailed asset tracking information for the management of devices and usage. Your Help Desk can coordinate user information with asset monitoring to assist in troubleshooting user problems. And, your managers and employees can track their ownership and usage of their own devices.
When considering the best course of action for your company’s mobility program, think of your entire company and know the biggest secret of all: chose an aggregator. The right company can help you achieve the best and most cost-effective mobility program through better optimization, savings, automation and deployment. Now, it’s no longer a secret.