Smartphones and tablets will be the equipment of first choice for communications and content consumption within two years, according to Garter. But as devices pour into your enterprise, the cost of mobility is rising. Smart CIOs are looking for ways to minimize those expenses while maximizing the benefits of enterprise mobility. With that in mind, here are six tips for managing mobile costs:
1. Implement mobile resources judiciously.
More employees need mobile devices, but they don’t all need the same functionality. Let’s say Wilma travels a lot and uses her smartphone to connect with customers and the office. She needs unlimited voice and text, plus 5GB of data. Let’s say Fred spends every day in the office, where he relies on the corporate WiFi. Does he also need 5GB of data? Then why are you paying extra to give it to him?
The solution is to define mobile personas based on business needs. You might end up with eight or ten mobile personas, but that’s not hard to manage, and it can save you significant dollars.
2. Negotiate mobile contracts wisely.
Most companies negotiate mobile contracts by asking for a discount off the sticker price. The carrier typically agrees to a discount in exchange for a minimum usage level for a minimum period of time, often three to five years.
That sounds fine. And it’s essentially the approach we took at CompuCom — until we did some analysis and discovered we were paying for about twice the usage we needed.
The solution? Insist on the ability to renegotiate your contract every three to six months to match what you’re paying with actual usage. Over the term of the contract, that can mean substantial savings.
3. Plan mobile configurations proactively.
Mobile devices are constantly evolving. New models, form factors and peripherals come and go every few months. That can wreak havoc with your mobile plans.
Let’s say you’re outfitting tablets with “sleds” (like Square®) that accept credit cards. You plan to roll out 2,500 this year and 2,500 next year. You deploy the first wave without problem. Then your tablet maker changes the form factor, and the sled you sourced no longer fits.
You can avoid this problem by working with an advisor that manages procurement — for example, by pre- or post-ordering devices to correspond with your plans. That way, the devices you want are waiting for you when you need them. You can avoid a lot of mobile spend this way.
4. Deploy mobile devices intelligently.
When organizations deploy mobile devices, they cobble together the smartphones, tablets, peripherals, apps, carrier contracts and so on that will meet their needs. Typically, they buy devices from one vendor, purchase peripherals from other vendors, source configuration from another, handle some aspects in-house and so on.
That takes a lot of time and expertise. And you can run into problems with timing and handoffs among vendors, or vendors that want to sell you their own technology instead of the solution that’s best for you.
The answer is to work with a single-source, vendor-neutral advisor that can manage your device lifecycle — with less complexity, in less time and at an overall lower cost.
5. Audit mobile invoices regularly.
Mobile carriers have complex service plans. They also have complex billing policies and they have complex billing systems. Even if carriers have the best intentions, billing errors aren’t unheard of.
That means mobile invoice audits need to become routine. Be sure the rate plan you’re paying for is what you signed up for. Make sure you aren’t being charged for things such as activation fees that shouldn’t be there. If you have a large number of mobile users and your rate schedule is off even by a few cents, which can really add up. Catching these issues early can save you plenty.
6. Monitor mobile details carefully.
Mobile technology changes quickly. What worked yesterday might not be optimal today. And that can have serious cost implications.
As one example, Apple released iOS 9 in mid-September. In the new version, if the WiFi signal isn’t strong, the system automatically looks for a carrier network.
Apple’s goal was to ensure an optimal user experience. But this new feature can be costly — especially if you have thousands of mobile users. A trusted advisor that keeps current with these kinds of configuration issues can measurably lower your total cost of ownership.
The details of mobility will change rapidly. But by addressing these six issues, you can manage the cost of mobility while giving end users the mobile functionality they need.
Please feel free to comment on how you effectively manage mobility and associated expenses in your organization.