22 percent of enterprise employees currently fall into the category of “mobile information workers”

Mobile Management

In the past few years there has been a sharp rise in the number of remote or "on the go" workers. As a result, more and more iPhones, blackberry, androids and now the new iPads, and other mobile assets are finding their way into corporate technology environments. Mobile assets have become crucial in the productivity enhancement of an organization. 

Mobile management of smart phonesA recent survey conducted by Forrester Research shows that about 22 percent of enterprise employees currently fall into the category of "mobile information workers", using a variety of handheld devices to support their day to day activities. Additionally, Forrester estimates that approximately 6 percent of the US workforce uses their own personal mobile devices for work related activities, and that number is expected to grow to 25 percent by 2012.

As mobile communications are becoming necessary and a growing number of enterprises are purchasing new phones and service plans for their workforce, it is becoming more confusing to manage and optimize these expenses for the benefit of the business. One of the most effective ways to cut costs is by evaluating your wireless expenditures.

Do you have someone in your organization that handles the day to day tasks of Mobile – is it YOU? Are you handling tasks such as updating your mobile inventory, purchasing hardware for new employees, cancelling or transferring devices of retiring or leaving employees, upgrading devices due to loss or breakage and fighting billing errors, escalating costs & unknown charges? 

Of course, you would have realized that managing the day to day mobile services can be a challenging endeavor for any organization. Determining the best optimal voice/data plans, and figuring out which devices & features suits the needs of individual employees and the organization takes too much of your valuable time.

Here’s where outsourcing mobile expense management plays a vital role. A lot of your precious time is saved when you outsource mobile device management. Mobile management is more than just picking the lowest prices or the best handsets. It simplifies and streamlines the management of mobiles within your organization.

Mobile management companies provide unbiased mobile device management and single point of contact wireless help services. They manage procurement of your mobile devices, monitor service plans and respond to calls and emails from your end users. They maintain, track and replace hardware while maintaining confidentiality and compliance with your wireless policies, procedures and purchasing authorizations.

 

As more companies are adopting Smart Phones/PDAs, it is imperative to have a mobile procurement and usage policy at the organization. There needs to be the right mix of productivity, security and cost in devising the mobile policy. Are you still thinking about developing a mobile management plan for your company?

Telecom expense management is a multifaceted process

Telecom expense management

Corporate communications networks are costly and difficult to manage today than ever before. It has been found that the telecommunications spending area is wrought with inefficiency among organizations (the difference between ‘average’ and ‘competitive’ rates is as much as 40%). A staggering 80% of telecoms bills include hidden charges or incorrect billing.

Incorrect billing results in 10- 15% overcharges – Gartner Dataquest

In this competitive world, it is important for businesses to carefully manage their telecommunication costs. Telecom Expense Management (TEM) is a comprehensive approach to controlling what is one of the greatest expenditures in many businesses. It is a business approach to manage telecommunication service expenses (voice, data, and wireless) with a combination of software tools and manual auditing.

Telecom expense management is actually a multifaceted process. The basic telecom expense management activity is a cost audit that determines possible savings. This cost audit reduces the monthly service costs of your organization by up to 50% (average 32.8%). In manual auditing the auditor performs research and comparisons himself, while utilizing software applications like Tele-Watch to assist. Software auditing involves the use of specialized software tools designed to aggregate usage and billing data. In-cycle analysis involves ERP-class analytic tools to automatically reconcile detailed billing elements to service inventories and contracts/tariffs prior to payment processing.

A complete telecom expense management solution looks at the industry as a whole to find the best carrier for your needs. For example, one carrier may provide excellent rates for fleets of phones providing basic talk and text service, while another might be the best for 3G wireless Internet. Telecom experts need to keep up to date on the latest rates and agreements available from every carrier to provide the best possible savings. They are involved in detailed tracking by unit to detect employee misuse and inactive units. This helps in cutting down the unnecessary expenses.

Telecom expense management helps reduce the costs by finding cost effective sources for new hardware and upgrades such as smart phones and Bluetooth headsets. TEM provides you a detailed review of all your communication costs to keep your organizations telecommunication costs in control on an ongoing basis. It provides visibility into your costs enabling you to perform informed business decisions.

There is no risk involved in using the services of a TEM firm as it guarantees net savings for your company. It goes a long way in reducing the operational costs and improving the efficiency of your organization.

 

International Calling Pushing Your Phone Bill Off the Chart – Skype It

With all of todays technology there is really no reason why telecom costs need to stay in the red. Skype is an immediate technology that can reduce International calling costs as noted by TechCrunch "Skype now accounts for 12% of all international calling minutes". Businesses and individuals can immediately reduce costs with nothing more than a technology change. In fact to incorporate all internal communication a company will not only benefit from reduced long distance over all but improved efficiency too. If there is any negative to incorporating Skype it would be in the quality of the call. This is always a concern whenever you begin to implement any VoIP solution. Internally we at GILL Technologies have found the call quality to be excellent 9 out of 10 times. The 10th time is not a big deal when considering businesses have become accustomed to lower quality of service (QOS) primarily due to the adoption of cell phones, being the primary communication tool for many. (A great reason for cell phone expense management – ok a plug). That being said I would recommend a gradual adoption to test the networks and overall satisfaction. Implement the service for internal calling to start, then expand into service calls. Once you are confident in the services (if that time comes) then unleash the full power and incorporate all calling. There is nothing worse than worrying about call quality when making a call, so build the comfort level. Prior to implementation; however, there are some guidelines that should be implemented and followed. Some things to consider are:

  1. Will the use of webcam be permitted
  2. What will the policy around webcam use be
  3. Set automatic away settings to an increment of 5 minutes
  4. Maintain status settings – i.e. when in a meeting set to "Do Not Disturb"
  5. Your identity picture policy if this is a concern
  6. Integration with outlook or other corporate mail
  7. Plug-Ins Policy – you may want to incorporate Recording Capability
  8. Wi-Fi Phones or Company IP Phones, or Soft Phones
  9. If Soft Phones – who will supply headsets

These are some of the things you may want to think about prior to unleashing instant communication in your organization. Over all, Skype is a great tool with thumbs up from us at GILL Technologies.

Wireless Communication Management Rhyme – “Scrooge is in the house”

So another year has passed and a new one just begun filled with new opportunities, but survival is the one we focus on. We must justify our roles and the easy target is our communications – for with no communications – there is no business. Present day communications management has become far more complex, the costs have escalated, and day to day management is potentially the most painful part of all. As we sit around the data room, we wonder if there will be a day again where we can be the heroes we once were – in charge of all that RAM, Routers, and terminals. Enjoying our superiority of technology; however, before we get too lost in all our memory bliss, tonight is a special night– a new decade and a new fiscal year is upon us. Budgets, efficiencies, new technology, and growth all in front of us but unlike other decades past we wonder exactly what the future holds. Fear not for tonight is a special night; tonight your IT Departments will be visited by three ghosts. The first, the ghost of technology past, followed by the ghost of financial reality preparing us for the ghost of leadership tomorrow.

GhostThe First Ghost

At the stroke of midnight Johnny Menclub our old IT Manager clatters through the walls with chains dangling.

[Johnny] “Hello gentleman – and gentle ladies, it’s been a long time. I miss those old days of camaraderie and cheer. You know the ones where all the technology was so complex it took engineers to keep us on track.”

[IT Department] “Yeah Johnny, you were the best. We had awesome jobs. We baffle everyone with gigabytes, and microwave transmissions. We were gods. We could do no wrong. “

[Johnny] “Yeah boys, those were the good days – ‘they’ needed us. We were indispensible. But I’m here to warn you, be careful gentleman – the times have changed and its rough out there – I don’t want you to end up like me – you need to re-invent your place…..”

Johnny is sucked back from the matrix he came from.

[IT Department] That was creepy – poor Johnny he was a good lad. But he’s right. Technology has changed. User friendly applications are standard and that damn mouse can help solve anything.

The Second Ghost

With little time to recover Stacy Query appears our current CFO as if in a bad dream. She is the one who changed everything – now all we hear is how we must drive costs down, yet management keeps adding feature rich functionality and data costs are climbing. Somehow Stacy thinks it our fault!

[Stacy] “I can hear you, she bellows. Of course it’s your fault, you’re responsible for technology and wireless cost management is technology. You should be keeping costs in check”

[IT Department] “Our fault?!?!? How can it be our fault? We’re not accountants. We keep the technology of this company advancing giving us cutting edge solutions and keeping us ahead of the competition. How were we suppose to know your sales and marketing team would start utilizing data and cellular devices to drive growth in the company”

[Stacy] “Well if you were giving me the data I needed to know where costs were increasing, what was valid and what was abuseareas, we could curb costs while keeping your gadgets running – then I could use that information to empower our organization for growth”

[IT Department] “Wait a second since when is it our job to fill out spreadsheets – and who has the time – we’re busy supporting all the users who can’t seem to read manuals. If we had implemented some Cellular Procurement Policies in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

[Stacy] “Well all I know is I’m not taking the blame for these rising costs. The carrier’s will just have to help us.”

Stacy melts in a pool of red ink.

[IT Department] “Anyone know why the carrier would help us reduce costs and in turn their revenue, huh! So now we’re suppose to implement new hardware, manage costs, negotiate contracts, complete spreadsheets, discover abandoned assets…..who’s getting dinner”

The Third Ghost

With a ray of light and warmth filling the room – Dave Ceokata appears…

[Dave] “Fear not my team there is a better way, a way accounting can get their wish of tighter costs, Operations getting improved efficiencies, and IT smoother day to day operations allowing for the time needed to ensure our company stays on the technology cutting edge.”

[IT Department] “But how is this possible Dave? We have tried to manage but things are changing so fast, carrier plans seem to change every month, user device application and adoption is growing weekly, hardware is getting more costly and gosh dangit – Communications is the lifeline.”

[Dave] “Your right team, communications is the lifeline, and it’s why we have to ensure our team is over seeing it. But not buried by it. We need to find the professionals who can produce monthly wireless cost audits keeping the cost under control and are independent from our carriers – thus who will work for our benefit – I know there is savings to be had! We need a support team, who can handle the day to day user queries, and get you guys off hold with the carriers. Finally we need communication management software that can provide us the Intel, to ensure corporate compliance to policies, eliminate defunct units, and produce quality feedback helping us grow maximizing our communications as the tools they were meant to be.

[IT Department] Does this dream exist?

[Dave] Ah yes the dream exists team. In fact in less than 30 days we could be saving money, have superior visibility, and user bliss with single point of contact support and procurement. Go now team, implement the solution, over see it and create bliss through our organization. Be the heroes I know you can be!

How to decide between a new Blackberry and the iPhone for your Business

This is a great question, especially with the growing popularity of the iPhone (even among enterprise) and the current market captured by the Blackberry. There are a couple of things to consider when making this important decision, whether you’re jumping ship or a newbie to the smart phone arena. I’ve divided the comparison into two categories, first functionality,
and second cost, certainly not in any order of importance as there is weight for both. But before we look at these two comparisons, why is it such an important decision? Well simply put, your phone has become a critical part of how you do business. With the added capabilities and features coming into play it is becoming even more important all the time.

Functionality:

So with functionality becoming increasingly important, this is where BlackBerry tends to be playing catch-up. Try a Google search on the two devices searching for applications and you quickly see a major short fall on BlackBerry. I find as a BlackBerry user myself looking to the iPhone or an Android as a potential solution to maximizing efficiency. That after all is what the functionality is for. To make my life more efficient, provide better service and give me more time to focus on other things. So as I dive into the applications on the BlackBerry to increase efficiency I am continuously

apple-iphone

running into brick walls. For example through my Google account I want to be able to access and sync my Gmail account. At best the Google application has many limitations. First syncing is not a true sync, such as draft emails don’t appear on my desktop until sent. The calendar function on the device is rudimentary at best. The ability to add a simple appointment for a specific time with details is impossible to date. Other functionalities such as Twitter applications put the device into cardiac arrest. Now with all this being said I am not looking for a device to tell me what tip I should leave, this I can handle. I’m speaking of everyday functions that keep me connected with my team, my customers, and on task. Unless I stay focused in my exchange environment (which is losing its attraction all the time) BlackBerry is losing its appeal.

Cost:

Once we get by the sticker shock of the hardware pricing – realizing these devices are so much more than just a phone – these devices are going to give me back time and efficiency, then we have the cost of operation to consider. This is where we see a big difference through our telecom cost audit and mobile management services on Tele-Watch. There is no doubt that these same wonderful applications that are increasing efficiencies are also driving up data costs to the carrier and soon if not already to the end clients. The iPhone in techy terms – is a pig – that’s a technical term. Now with talk of carriers taking away unlimited data in the US, and none really available (when you read the fine print) in Canada, this is a major concern. With BlackBerry costs fairly fixed and their data usage light, I at least know my costs and they are consistent.

With BlackBerry racing to catch up on applications, I will hold temporarily and see if the applications I need to be more efficient evolve soon. I hope this is not a wish unanswered.

Where do you stand on the iPhone and BlackBerry battle and has it worked out for you?

Introducing Tele-Watch: Telecom Savings and Cloud Reporting

For nearly a decade, GILL Technologies has provided telecom savings and management solutions for businesses of all sizes, from international enterprise to smaller ventures. We specialize in controlling wireless costs. As telecom has evolved we’ve developed new and improved services, and now we’ve taken the next logical step: Tele-Watch.

Tele-Watch is our integrated cloud software and comprehensive service program, designed to provide clients with a total telecom expense management solution. We distilled years of client feedback and exhaustive testing into a system designed to meet their needs. As a result, we routinely save clients up to 50% or more on their mobile phone bills.

Tele-Watch harnesses a seamless combination of user-friendly software and in-house expertise based on these pillars:

Mobile Phone Management Software: Tele-Watch’s software side is a cloud-based service available to anyone with a web-capable device. After logging into Tele-Watch you can view your company’s complete billing and usage information. That includes records of your heaviest users, breakdowns by carrier and administrator-defined cost centers (such as branch offices and departments) and most importantly, records of billing errors and other savings opportunities.

Management in the cloud (that is, hosted remotely on a secure web server) means that you never have to employ your own IT or accounting department to install and maintain it. It also means that you don’t need to be at a particular computer or local server – just get on the Web. We handle all maintenance and updates, so all you have to do is provide billing information.

Tele-Watch software is optimized for mobile phone management, but includes tools for other telecom services, including land lines, long distance plans and internet.

Telecom Savings Analysis: Telecom analysts work hand in hand with our software to seek out savings opportunities in an evolving telecom industry. Analysts discover savings on your behalf and integrate them into your cloud reporting, providing continuous savings. We detect errors, unused entitlements and more cost-effective alternatives without forcing you to change your carrier, phone number, handset or services.

Tele-Watch ClientCare: Again and again, our clients expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service major carriers provided, so we developed “next level” customer service with ClientCare. Once you register with Tele-Watch, a ClientCare representative will provide:

  • Tech support for hardware.
  • Liaison services with your carrier so that you never need to wait on hold with them again.
  • Procurement services to help you upgrade and add handsets, headsets and other hardware in a convenient, cost-effective fashion.

Try Tele-Watch now. Head to http://www.tele-watch.com to request a demo or a free 60 day trial. For a detailed walkthrough of the Tele-Watch solution, head to http://www.gill-technologies.com/visibility.php.

Why you should Not Trust the Carrier to Generate Mobile Savings

In a mobile industry which is plagued with high “churn” rates between competitors and changing sales people like a swinging door, it is understandable why you should be cautious when it comes to making dramatic carrier change decisions. However, caution is sometimes not enough. We have many situations where we are dealing with current clients and prospective clients who have been promised the world when it comes to carrier services. The biggest promise of all is savings on the wireless cell phone plans. Come to our network and save X%.

We recently had a client promised just this situation from a competitive carrier to the one they were currently on. Fortunately the client knew enough to pass this by us prior to making the jump. They were promised a 38% savings on their average cell phone bill to go to the new carrier. Now 38% cell phone plans comparison savings is pretty extreme, especially when you consider this client employed us to manage their costs and we brought none of this to their attention. The total offer focused on the following:

  1. Free Hardware – 3 Year Agreement
  2. Unlimited Calling – Promotional period of 3 months only
  3. Corporate Contact
  4. Corporate Mobile Cellular Management
  5. Corporate Agreement
  6. …and 38% cost savings per month.

When we analyzed the carriers offer – and in defense of the carrier – we’re really talking about the salesperson’s offer (although this was a corporate salesperson), the reality was the client’s costs instead of saving 38% on their mobile phone plans, would have increased by 12%. To really support the fact we actually outlined to the client on a line by line basis comparing cell phone plans of over  100 units in their fleet, exactly the cause and effect over a one year period.  The client was astonished. They were absolutely shocked that someone could get away with just lying about the end results. However, is this really lying?

I would challenge that likely it is not so much lying as it is negligence in that the salesperson probably did believe the savings would materialize. If we look at their job specifically, they are paid and continue to keep their job based on client acquisitions and activations. So the bulk of their time is spent chasing new prospects to secure new business. The tool they use to entice new business is generally savings on mobile phone plans. In utilizing this tool, they by default become cost analysts in the preparation of proposals. So to sum up, a salesperson that spends the bulk of their time chasing new business, to stay employed, spends the least amount of their time being auditors.  This is likely not a good model to support, at least for the client.

So this leads to an interesting issue. What if you’re promised “X” savings from a carrier, and those savings do not materialize? Buyer Beware! You’re essentially toast! You’ve signed the term agreement which guarantees no savings what so ever, quality of support or service. Of course you could fight this, but it would be a long and likely fruitless battle. In the meantime your communications would be in an uproar.  The best solution is to either internally audit the cell phone plans comparison quote, which of course can be quite time consuming, or have a third party review the wireless cell phone plans on your behalf. One of the biggest marketing statements we make here at GILL Technologies is “we work on your, the client’s behalf, not the carriers’. I sometimes think the importance of this is underestimated.

Has your company ever been promised savings from a carrier? Did they materialize? I would love to hear your input.

Why Offer a Communication Management Free Trial?

Why has a communications management firm that has offered telecom solutions for a decade decided to offer its proprietary management software on a free trial? It’s hard for me to write the answer without sounding like an advertisement, especially since as I write the reasons, it sounds like an ad to me – but that’s not the case. It all has to do with the evolving business climate in the US and Canada. We’ve adapted to it and want to help other firms do the same.

North American business has changed over the last year. At GILL Technologies, we’ve been very fortunate to have a loyal client base. Over the years, we’ve changed to respond to its requests for additional features and services and to keep GILL Technologies focused on best practices. In fact, what began as a cost audit company some 10 years ago has developed into much more. For example,  ClientCare (a component of our service) has become one of our most sought after services. Today, it’s one of the pillars of our business even though it really has little to do with the concept of cost auditing. By listening to our clients we discovered the value in being able to be their single point of contact for a technical support and services.

Tele-Watch evolved in much the same way. Companies need better control over their communications, period; most businesses will openly admit this. One crucial step to improve control is by acquiring timely, superior access to usage and spending information. This visibility gets crucial data to the right people in a timely fashion (not six months later). It drives accountability through the organization, because they know the nature of on what may be the largest business expense they face, as communications is quickly becoming one of the largest expenses possible for any company.

GILL Technologies responded with Tele-Watch: a proprietary software application hosted on the cloud and available from any web enabled device on a secure platform. Tele-Watch is absolutely amazing in how it presents important communications information. We developed it to let clients view their communications usage, expenses and services just the way they need to. Again, we improved a component of the service that really had little to do with the cost audit concept,  but again through our clients’ guidance we developed reporting tools that change the way a company manages communications.

So now, our challenge is to utilize what we created to grow our business. Bear in mind that our primary focus is to save companies money, however. We never want to lose sight of that mission. Tele-Watch is a software solution, but rather than take the typical approach of, “Let’s sell our software,” we made what I consider the bold statement of saying: “Lets give Tele-Watch to our prospective clients, let them feel the difference in single point of contact with ClientCare, and while this is occurring, show them how we can save them money. It’s a Win-Win-Win!”

OK, now I really sound like an advertisement! But when you think about our philosophy, it really makes sense beyond its raw promotional value. We save companies money. It’s our core mission. That’s why clients establish a relationship with us. Tele-Watch and ClientCare build relationships that last for years, if not indefinitely. So why not introduce people to the whole concept while we evaluate the benefit of the relationship in hard numbers?

That’s why we offer a Communication Management Free Trial, giving you the chance to sample our range of services as a prelude to securing long term savings and excellent service. I hope you can see beyond the sales pitch and appreciate the concept. I don’t know – did I fluff it up too much?

Like I said, North American business has changed, and you need the chance to make informed decisions, and today’s technology should allow it. Shouldn’t you able to test drive a service even at the enterprise level? What do you think?

Where’s Canada’s Net Neutrality? Why Does It Matter to Mobile Users?

Last month the FCC drew up policy guidelines that strongly favored net neutrality: the principle that providers should not block or impede legal internet traffic. This is an important principle for users on several fronts. Without strong net neutrality an ISP might censor websites, or slow down data transfer speeds because it dislikes particular traffic patterns. Net neutrality keeps the internet working properly – at least in the US.

Unfortunately, Canadians need to contend with much more primitive polices – or really, a lack of policy at all – courtesy of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC. Canadian law kicked some aspects of internet regulation under the CRTC’s banner long ago and now the body doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. The CRTC’s inactivity used to be praised when Internet users were still afraid of state censorship, but that era’s gone. Nowadays, Canadian ISPs threaten net neutrality on several levels:

  • ISPs slow down peer to peer network traffic. The argument that this targets pirates is swiftly disappearing as peer to peer protocols are increasingly used to deliver legal content.
  • Infrastructure providers slow down bandwidth that it sells to wholesalers, reducing viable competition.
  • In 2005, Telus blocked access to sites maintained by the union representing Telus workers who were currently striking. No matter how you feel about that sort of thing, shouldn’t you have been able to see for yourself?

Canada has no net neutrality legislation and the CRTC’s slow, minimal regulation have the potential to become even bigger problems in the wake of the smartphone revolution. As Canadians demand mobile internet access and use technologies like VoIP to bypass onerous fees, larger carriers have an ever-stronger motive to provide tiered service, where getting unencumbered access will cost extra.

If you plan on employing a smartphone fleet carrier meddling won’t just increase your cell phone bills – it may change your core operations. If you’re counting on high mobile connectivity for specific business functions and carriers decide the traffic you want is “premium,” you might have to settle for a sub-optimal solution. Right now this scenario only covers a small number of cases, but it’s the cases we can’t think of that need protection the most. That Canadian policy threatens business innovation isn’t some far out conjecture; Google and Amazon have both asked the CRTC to stop allowing traffic shaping.

As a mobile telecom expense management firm this is a special concern for us. GILL Technologies has a special degree of competency in mixed telecom, particularly wireless internet. We want to provide competitive solutions that help clients reach new levels of success, but to do our best, we need an environment that will respect the online medium and let it act as a level playing field for competition. It’s good for businesses, good for consumers, and we hope the CRTC understands that.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-14