Reason #8 Why Clients Spend Way Too Much for Telecommunications: Poor Wireless Mobility Governance

Author: Dave Young

In our November 2012 issue of The Net Effect, we published a White Paper titled “Top 10 Reasons Why Clients Spend WAY TOO MUCH…For Telecommunications”.   This is the third in a series of blog entries that will explore each of these topics in more detail, moving on to #8:  Poor Wireless Mobility Governance.

How things have changed in a few short years.  There was a time, not so long ago, that wireless mobility in the enterprise meant a Blackberry or a basic cell phone for voice calls and not much more.   Access to data on the Blackberry didn’t amount to much because the web browsing interface was so basic and the “app” was not yet part of our lexicon.  Mobile carrier rate plan management has always been a challenge to keep costs in check, but with a limited set of Blackberry focused voice, web browsing and email plans, it was more narrowly focused and arguably easier to manage and contain costs.

But enough nostalgia!  The reality today is that we are in a much better world of wireless mobility with a variety of smartphones and tablets saturating the enterprise, both corporate sponsored and employees bringing their own devices, to help ease the functional and technical barriers to business enablement and liberating access to corporate data and communications.   The range of devices and mobile operating systems have multiplied, now dominated by iPhone and Android-based devices, with carrier rates plans moving in step with the greater demands for data and messaging.   With the proliferation of mobile applications, many industry and enterprise specific, mobility computing is becoming a true business enabler and something few businesses can do without.

All of this is putting greater demands on the enterprise in terms of support for a greater range of mobility products; more complexity of carrier rate plan management, bill review and reporting; keeping on top of moves, add and changes; and managing employee usage of these devices.   With this new sophistication in the hands of employees comes new freedom to explore the boundaries of communication and information and the blurring of the boundaries between the corporate and personal usage of these mobile devices.

Putting this power and freedom in the hands of the employee, combined with the mobile carriers’ propensity to create rate plans that keep their revenue intact and enterprise costs up, and add to this a mobile workforce that can easily turn on and start communicating with their smartphone or tablet as soon as they touch down in a plane in most parts of the world, you have a challenge that calls for some governance in how this is managed to maintain some control and keep costs in check.

There is hope to get a handle on wireless mobility expenses, but it requires a multi-pronged approach and organizational discipline on many fronts, starting with governance.  Wireless mobility governance in this context refers to high-touch management of the wireless mobility assets and the individuals that use them.  We often take for granted the power of wireless communication for voice calling, presence, texting, email or web browsing.  Unfortunately, we don’t typically associate this benefit to the true cost, both tangible, such as rate plan management, and the intangibles, such as the overhead involved in managing moves, adds and changes.

From the workforce perspective, and often the best way to contain costs, governance means educating employees on how to most cost effectively use devices and place limits on what is acceptable enterprise usage.  The best example of this is international travel, where it takes very little voice, data or texting usage to drive up costs.  Of course, there are special international rate plans that can be activated, but they are often modest reductions.  Employees need to fully understand the consequence of making calls and web browsing while they are overseas or simply on a quick trip to Canada from the U.S.  There are many tips and tricks that can be used in this example to contain costs such as the use of Wi-Fi for voice calls, use of in-country SIMs, or simply renting a phone while abroad.  This education should then be reinforced with policies and oversight to help ensure compliance.  In fact, it can be argued that the greatest source of cost containment in mobility is managing end-user behavior and simply educating employees on how to be smart with the device.   Most people want to do the right thing if they know what that means.

Another dynamic that is changing the complexion of wireless mobility in the enterprise and the governance that goes with it is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Mobile Device Management (MDM).  Suffice it to say, if you are going to support employees bringing their own devices into the enterprise and you combine this with placing a cap on the total rate plan expense that is attributable to corporate usage, then you’ve solved some of your challenge at cost containment.  However, this does not mean that governance goes away. This creates an entirely new dimension of policy considerations between acceptable corporate usage vs. personal usage and the accompanying concerns about security and privacy for the enterprise and the employee.

MDM seeks to address this challenge and when combined with a sophisticated Telecommunications Expense Management tool or service from a provider, you are also solving many of the challenges in applying suitable governance to protect the enterprise and the employee while improving the value of mobility and optimizing costs.

Wireless mobility governance is a key, often neglected area of telecommunications management in the enterprise and should be viewed in the context of an overarching mobility strategy that takes into consideration the hard to ignore phenomenon of BYOD and the accompanying MDM that helps make a BYOD program in the enterprise effective.  NET(net) advises our clients in a broad range of telecommunications products and services, optimizing telecommunications supplier offers and agreements and helping answer these important questions about governance and how this helps the enterprise contain costs and create a more manageable wireless mobility environment.  Please contact your NET(net) representative about how we can help your organization find, get and keep value in wireless mobility.

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