Telecom Expense Management for Small Businesses – Part 3

Single Point of Contact Support and Procurement

In part-3 of this 3 part series focusing on telecom expense management for small business, we look at single point of contact support and procurement. Dealing with the carriers can be especially challenging for small business as they are stuck between being treated like a consumer by the carriers, yet trying to run a company much like a mid size or larger business.

Therefore understanding how a single contact point where a small business can channel all of their communication needs can be extremely beneficial. Discover just a few ways outsourcing communication management support even for the small guy – is a good move.

 

 

 

 

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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?

Think Twice Before You Add Palm Phones to Your Fleet

Mobile management is more than just picking the lowest prices or the best handsets. Consider the case of Palm products.

The Palm Pre was an extraordinary smartphone. The Pre Plus is even better. On the surface, both are worthy executive level phones with a unique OS and look that combined functionality and style. The Palm Pixi is a fun little phone for basic tasks – not great for core business activities, but it looks like might be good as a pure perk. Right now, the Pre and Pixi are incredibly cheap, so wouldn’t it keep costs down to pick them?

Palm Pre Mobile Management

The Palm Pre is a bargain for consumers -- but not the best for business.

Well I’ve given it away in the article title, but the sad answer is “no.” Yes, the Palm Pre is an excellent phone that carriers are offering for nothing on selected plans, but Palm is ailing. Its stock plummeted 19% on Friday March 19th, and may be worthless soon. CNN Money quoted one analyst as saying Palm is in a “death spiral.” This matters to end users because if Palm falls apart, that means you’ll be left with no upgrades, up to date support or new applications – and that’s not where you want to be with a contract. That’s a serious mobile management consideration.

What happened? Blackberries were the original smartphones before there was even a smartphone category, and are still the go-to phone for business use. The iPhone is in a league of its own. It can be customized for virtually any task by loading the right Apps, though many people probably use it for style and fun, not business. A past pioneer in the dying PDA category, Palm was ideally positioned to enter the smartphone category that replaced PDAs. Despite a few hiccups in the hardware and a foolish war with Apple over iTunes synching, the Pre looked ready to make Palm a third big player, bridging the gap between the too-serious Blackberry and the style-fixated iPhone.

Then Android hit. Palm couldn’t compete with an open OS that might not have been innovative, but was cheap to implement on a variety of handsets in all price categories, right up to the Droid, (Milestone in Canada) a phone obviously competing for the over $100 digital assistant niche. Android might be a poor fit for some handsets, but it will always cost less to implement, and the wave of Android phones creates a situation where once users will become familiar with the OS on one phone they’ll be comfortable with any handset that has an Android installation.

Palm’s tried to move forward with gaming and rich media applications in the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, but even if they save themselves, they’re doing it by attacking a niche with little relevance to business users. Either way, Palm phones aren’t the right choice for your company’s mobile fleet, no matter how far their prices drop. Good mobile management thinks about your interests across a phone’s entire lifecycle – not just at the point of purchase.

Mobile Management in 2010

Mobile management is a swiftly evolving field, where effective solution providers need to stay aware of the latest business, technology and regulatory trends to offer the very best services. At GILL Technologies we need to do a little more than just pay attention to products and billing, however, because we also offer technical and service support through our ClientCare program, where people like Amy and Tara help clients with everything from setting up a new mobile phone to migrating entire fleets to new carriers.

Now that 2010 is here and CES has come and gone, it’s time to talk about some of the new trends that will affect mobile management this year. Some of these developments promise to save money – and others represent new costs to control.

Android Phones: An explosion in wireless powered by Google’s Android OS has brought an explosion of choice into the cell phone market, as well as a powerful mobile management opportunity on the procurement front. Blackberry may still be the best for certain business functions but it and the iPhone aren’t the only practical choices any more. Key phones to watch include Motorola’s Droid (known as the Milestone in Canada) and the Google/HTC Nexus One. Beyond these there are dozens of new phones in all price ranges – and you may need professional mobile management to find the right one for you.

Carrier Competition: GILL Technologies provides mobile management solutions in both the US and Canada, so we took careful note when the government decided to permit WIND Mobile to operate in Canada. WIND’s bringing genuine competition to a market that’s been dominated by the “big three” of Bell, Rogers and Telus. WIND has thrown down the gauntlet with significantly cheaper wireless internet and competitive voice packages – but as of January 2010 it still doesn’t have a significant network outside of Toronto and Calgary. Competition is heating up in the US as well with the highly publicized advertising war between AT&T and Verizon over who really has the best 3G network.

Carrier-Subsidized Computers: Now that virtually every carrier offers mobile Internet, many have taken the next step and begun to subsidize netbooks and laptops with the purchase of a wireless Internet contract. This development will prove to be especially important this year as several companies release new devices designed specifically for this purpose. This includes the rumoured Apple iSlate tablet and several other computers with the tablet form factor. From a mobile expense management perspective, the challenge will be to help clients identify what they need out of these devices before finding ne that best fits the profile.

4G Internet: In Canada, Bell and Telus are cooperating to offer fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband. In the US, Verizon and Sprint have just begun to offer it in selected cities. From a mobile management perspective, the question is whether signing on for a 4G plan early meets a genuine business need, and whether competing carriers are offering a reliable, cost-effective service.

We’re looking forward to these challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. If you’d like to find out how we can help you with them from a mobile management perspective, Contact us.