Tag Archives: mobile device management
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Enterprise mobile services eat up a lot of an organization’s telecom budget. For large companies, pooling your voice, text and data is the best way to manage your account, and drive down your expenses.
How Mobile Pooling Works
Pooling works in one of two ways. Either you’re paying a certain amount for a block of minutes, gigabytes or text messages, from which each user on the account can draw from, or each user has an individual plan which gets combined to create a pool. Local voice and local data are the most commonly pooled usage types, but you can find others depending on your carrier, such as: US data pools, long distance pools, and international text messaging pools, just to name a few.
Splitting a Pool Between Users
If you’re paying for a block of usage, one of the potential pitfalls is that the full charge will sometimes be applied to one phone on the invoice. Obviously one user should not be expected to pay for an entire pool, so you will need to have some process in place to split that charge evenly across the entire account. Your wireless carrier may not do this, so it will likely need to be done manually.
This is where a wireless expense management (WEM) platform can really help your organization. By being able to track usage by volume and type, and by user, costs can be properly allocated between departments within an organization. It will also eliminate the manual labour of calculating percentages between users, as a good WEM platform can be set up to manage this for you. This means that the person who goes over the pool does not shoulder the excess charges singly, but it is rather split proportionately between users.
If you would like to discuss how you can better track your enterprise mobile services, contact Avema for a free consultation.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Cell phone usage within the corporation has increased significantly over the last ten years, yet few companies have implemented wireless spend policies and are struggling with how to manage this growing workload. Wireless costs can be difficult to control partly because service providers have a confusing range of usage plans, with many bills arriving in paper form to various corporate destinations and this can make it difficult for a company just to grasp how much they spend.
In May 2002, Gartner Research estimated that the average enterprise overpays telecom bills by 5-10%. Another issue in many companies is that no particular department has ownership of wireless, with oversight shared by Information Technology, Purchasing, and Telecommunications departments. Also, companies are providing cell phones to employees who may not have a business need for them, and are failing to set and enforce policies on how they are used. Often, people use them for personal calls, and the result has been ballooning expenses in this area.
Below, we have outline some tips on how to combat mobile costs in your business:
- If you have multiple vendors, consolidate them to as few as possible. Having more volume with one vendor will get you better pricing.
- Because there are many different price plans available for large organizations, investigate the various options available. This may include pooled plans where multiple users share a number of minutes, or individual price plans based on how much each user spends.
- Arrange with your carriers to consolidate bills for wireless devices. In larger companies, it is helpful to get this billing electronically so that you can better analyze the data.
- When an employee leaves a company, immediately cancel or transfer their company-provided cell phone package to avoid ongoing monthly charges.
- Develop and adhere to firm policies. Allocate budgets according to the job functions of your employees, and expected usage.
- Monitor these policies, and have a way to enforce them. Be particularly aware of excessive personal use.
- Consider having employees reimburse the company for personal calls.
- Standardize ordering hardware and features so that you’re only paying for business functionality, not bells and whistles.
- Watch out for frivolous new pay services like ring tones and games that can be downloaded by employees.
- Make sure that employees and their supervisors see their wireless bills each month, so that they are aware of the costs.
With the growing use of other wireless devices, including Personal Digital Assistants and mobile computing with full Internet access, companies risk losing control of these costs as well, unless spending and usage policies are put in place. Larger companies can benefit from telecom cost reviews done by an independent third party and implementing software to manage these expenses.
If you would like help reducing your wireless costs, or would like advice on how to better negotiate your wireless contracts, please contact Avema for a free consultation.
Monday, September 8, 2014
While it is important to keep your telecom pricing as simple as possible, this can be even more important when dealing with pricing for wireless services. With volume wireless plans, there are currently several pricing schemes available including individual price plans for each user, pooled pricing, and flat rate pricing.
As we already discussed in our previous posts, consolidating vendors, electronic billing, and negotiating vendor contracts can drive down costs. Once you’ve addressed simplifying your wired and data contracts, you can turn your sights to your wireless pricing. By keeping the pricing as simple as possible, it will be easier to manage costs and handle invoice processing.
Types of Wireless Plans
Individual wireless plans mean that in order to maximize your savings, you will need to choose the lowest cost plan for each of your users, depending on their habitual usage. If you opt to go with individual price plans, it will mean that you have to keep an eye on changing usage patterns and continuously adjusting these plans, which can be a lot of administration. For our clients who have opted for this route, they have found that they can best manage the process by implementing mobile expense management software. Otherwise, this approach requires a lot of hands-on, administrative work, ultimately impacting productivity.
Pooled wireless plans mean that you can have several users all sharing a “pool” of minutes. This is beneficial because there is no pressing need to worry about constantly monitoring and changing users’ plans. However, even with this scenario, it is still important to monitor your overall usage and adjust the pool as necessary, especially if you have users who are monopolizing the pool. Mobile expense management software can help you properly allocate costs between departments based on a user’s amount of pool usage.
Flat rate wireless plans are more common outside of the USA, where a monthly fee is charged for each user, and then a flat rate per minute is charged for usage. This makes monitoring wireless usage much simpler, and decreases the need to constantly review and/or change plans.
There is not necessarily a “best solution” out of these options for everyone. The optimum pricing structure really depends on your organization’s usage patterns. For example, trying to optimize price plans for each individual user may be a losing proposition if your users’ spending patterns fluctuate dramatically from month to month because you will always be a step behind. On the other hand, if some users in your organization regularly use large volumes of off-peak minutes, setting them up with individual plans that include unlimited off-peak minutes may save you enormous amounts.
Roaming and long distance are also items to consider when you analyze which pricing structure works best for you. Pooled and flat rate pricing tend to be priced a bit higher, but it may be worth paying if it saves you administrative costs required to manage plans. It also may cost less in the long run, depending on your usage patterns.
We’ve found that some of our clients have been successful with using one pricing structure for some of their users, and another pricing structure, or even another vendor altogether, for another group of users that have different calling patterns. For example, you may have the majority of your users in a pool to reduce costs. But for some heavy-duty users, or for people who travel extensively and incur roaming costs, you might want to optimize those users’ plans individually.
Ultimately, you will still need to do your homework to determine which pricing structure works best for your organization by analyzing usage patterns and volumes. Your goal should be to keep it as simple as possible in order to make managing costs easier.
If you would like help analyzing your usage patterns in order to determine which pricing structure is best for you, please contact Avema for a free consultation.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Another useful method of gathering data to analyze spending and usage patterns is to get your billing electronically whenever possible. Having consolidated your vendors will also help here, as each one has their own unique billing format. Some vendors have multiple electronic billing formats, particularly those that have been amalgamated from numerous smaller companies over the years.
We mentioned in our previous post how important it is to consolidate vendors. Once you have completed that step, electronic billing can significantly impact how you manage your telecom charges.
Typically, vendors provide their own proprietary software to analyze the billing data, so more vendors means more electronic billing portals to work with. Another good reason for vendor consolidation is to minimize the number of electronic billing formats that you need to work with. If you still need to work with more than one vendor (and therefore more than one billing portal), then a telecom expense management platform may be your best solution. This will enable you to view all your invoices, from multiple vendors, all in one place.
Some carriers are charging customers for electronic billing, which may seem counter-intuitive, especially since carriers reduce their costs by providing electronic billing instead of paper. Use this to your advantage to negotiate. If you spend more than even a few hundred dollars per month with any carrier, you should be able to get them to waive the fee for electronic bills.
Unfortunately, some smaller regional vendors may not be able to supply billing in electronic formats, so you may still be stuck with some paper. A sophisticated telecom expense management platform may come in handy here too, as they will likely have encountered this situation previously and designed a way to electronically import paper invoices.
If you would like help on how to best take advantage of electronic billing, or to evaluate an effective telecom expense management platform, please contact Avema for a free consultation.
Monday, August 25, 2014
We recently discussed what can go wrong if telecom costs aren’t managed, highlighting a very public case that happened in the mid-00s. We’d like to provide you with some tips on how to reduce your vendor charges. Even if you may have already reduced costs significantly, there may still be room for improvement.
Gather Information And Do Your Homework
Consolidate Vendors and Invoices
The fewer vendors that you have, the easier it is to manage them, not to mention also managing your billing. If you can commit to more volume with fewer vendors, you can almost always get better pricing. The first thing to do when your organization grows, or mergers or acquires another, is to reduce the number of vendors as much as possible.
Reducing the number of billing accounts will help in processing and auditing your invoices. It also makes it easier to calculate total volumes to give you more leverage in negotiations, ultimately reducing vendor charges.
If your organization has multiple divisions or sites, make sure that all the telecommunications invoices come to the same place, and that contracts are all handled centrally. It may still be important that various parts of the company receive data on their telecom usage, but having all the information come in to one place can have a large effect on cost management. You can still get the telecom usage information out to your various departments afterwards.
If you would like help on how to best consolidate your vendors, or advice on negotiation strategies, please contact Avema for a free consultation.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
We’ve helped over 100 companies with MDM selection and implementation, and here are the most common challenges that we’ve seen.
Policies that don’t balance all stakeholder needs
Security is important to the company, but so is user experience. Is it possible to be too secure? The answer is yes, if you don’t take into consideration end users and their desire for ease of use with their devices. You could implement policies that make using a mobile device so onerous that people actually become less productive. On the flip side, you could give up too much control to your end users. Balance is the key.
Viewing MDM software as commodity
Because there are limitations on MDM functionality that are imposed by operating systems, it’s common to think that most MDM software have the same basic set of tools. But there are vast differences in how these tools are used amongst the software vendors. For example, most MDM software can allow an administrator to enable or disable WiFi or a VPN application. But one may use data from Active Directory to automatically change these settings when an employee moves from one group to another.
Believing the hype
Mobile management software is a relatively new category, with many competitors vying for attention and dollars. Unless you’re new to IT, you’ve probably experienced vendors who embellish on what they can deliver. It’s important to itemize the most important features that you need, and do a pilot where you can evaluate them. A partner that works with several major MDM providers can provide unbiased advice, saving you time in evaluations. Here’s where I insert a shameless plug – Avema has helped over 100 companies to evaluate and install MDM software. Ask us any questions you may have.
Buying mismatched software for your IT environment
Similar to ensuring that the MDM features that you need actually work the way you expect, it’s also important to make sure that the hardware that you’re planning for works with the software that you’re buying. Some MDM features may work “for Android,” but only on certain versions.
For example, if you’re planning to use remote support functionality, different MDM providers do this in different ways, and it won’t be consistent between different versions of Android. Some devices allow remote viewing of the screen but not remote input. Others allow for both. Salespeople may either not know the specifics, or may embellish, knowing that more functionality is being added in future releases.
MDM in the cloud?
Cloud is a popular topic today, and it’s an important decision point for MDM software. MDM usually works with other types of software, such as email or directory services, so it will work better if it matches best to your environment. For example, if all of your other services are on your own servers, MDM is probably not your best choice for your first cloud service. Also, cloud-based MDM often lacks some features compared to the traditional licensing model.
Friday, July 25, 2014
This is the second post in our series discussing the best practices of those who are responsible for managing enterprise telecom. Read the first post here.
An important part of success in telecom management, as in any endeavor, is to set goals, write them down, and focus on your target. We work far more effectively when we have strong goals that we are committed to and that we believe in, and this is certainly no different for those who manage telecom for their enterprise. Chances are, you’ve heard a lot about goal setting from various self-help gurus, and in the general media. What’s really interesting about the whole concept of goal setting and achieving, is that if asked, most people will agree that it is helpful, yet very few people actually do much about it in their personal or professional lives.
Why does goal setting work? Imagine being given a bow and arrow and pointed towards a target. Chances are, you will be able to get the arrow at least in the vicinity of the target. Now, imagine being blindfolded, spun around, and asked to shoot at the same target. Pretty hard to do, isn’t it? How can you reach a goal, if you don’t even know where it is? Take the blindfold off. The more you focus on that target, the more you practice hitting it, your odds of success increase dramatically.
As human beings, we pay more attention to things that we think more about. Have you ever been shopping for a car, spent some time deciding on a specific model and color, and the more it’s on your mind, the more you notice many of the same model and color car in parking lots, or driving by? Or if you just bought a new piece of clothing, you start to notice other people wearing either something similar, or the exact same thing?
When you drive, or if you ski, instructors tell you to look towards where you’re going, because you will tend to follow wherever your head and eyes are pointed. If you focus on the road ahead of you, you’ll continue to go straight, however, if you look over at the car next to you, or the landscape off to the side, you will start to veer towards it.
By setting clear goals, focusing on what you desire as an outcome, and spending more time thinking about it, you are far more likely to reach those goals. Just like the examples with the car and clothing, your mind will more likely pick up pieces of useful information or ideas related to those goals.
As we have worked with clients over the years, we have witnessed some specific aspects to goal-setting that make it work.
Goals are ideally set by both the employee and the employer, so that there is an agreed upon metric of how “success” is defined. If your employer isn’t progressive enough to work with you on this, then it’s still a worthwhile exercise to do for yourself.
Goals must be SMART — meaning “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reportable and Timely.”
Writing your goals is a very effective and proven strategy, because it forces you to dedicate some time to focusing on specifics, and about what your success will be like when you achieve it. The action of picking up a pen and writing your goals also helps to solidify your commitment to the outcome. It also helps to make them public. This is one of the reasons for the success of group-based change-management programs such as Weight Watchers ®. All of these factors will increase your level of success dramatically, if properly applied. What is most important is your own internal dedication to success.
If you’re serious about achieving top results, it is essential that you spend some time to write down your specific goals as they relate to your enterprise telecom services. Once you have clearly lined out what you want to accomplish in your department, as well as a plan to achieve your goals, then you can begin to truly strategically shape your enterprise telecom services to meet those goals.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
“The trend toward employee-owned devices isn’t saving IBM any money, says Jeanette Horan, who is IBM’s chief information officer and oversees all the company’s internal use of IT. Instead, she says, it has created new challenges for her department of 5,000 people, because employees’ devices are full of software that IBM doesn’t control.”
IBM has had a BYOD program since 2010, and out of about 400,000 employees, they’re using 40,000 Blackberrys, and 80,000 other smartphones and tablets, some of them employee owned.
Some advantages that IBM has that you (probably) don’t:
- Technology as core competency of the company
- Internal tools – they sell their own MDM software and have their own cloud storage application, MyMobileHub
IBM is one of the earlier adopters of BYOD. What can other companies learn from their challenges?
“We found a tremendous lack of awareness as to what constitutes a risk,” says Horan. So now, she says, “we’re trying to make people aware.”
This includes a list of apps to avoid, such as Siri, and external file-transfer services, such as Dropbox or iCloud. Both apps transfer user data, either direct data like hosted files or indirect data like the full contact list transfered to Siri for voice matching purposes, to servers owned by private companies, and the enterprise may not agree with the terms offered by these provider companies. Not to mention these servers may be in foreign jurisdictions and therefore have legal ramifications that the enterprise may find unacceptable. Users are highly unlikely to understand the risks associated with these apps. IBM has it’s own cloud file transfer service, MyMobileHub, to get around these issues.
Employees base their decision to buy a device largely on UI and apps, including things like iCloud and Siri. Does this defeat the point of giving employees the choice to use an iPhone?
The article also mentions that employees are using smartphones to create open Wi-Fi hotspots, which could make data accessible by outsiders.
IBM employees are much more likely to be tech savvy than in most other companies. They would theoretically require less support for day-to-day issues such as accessing email, or help with specific applications. However, the additional security software and workarounds like MyMobileHub create more work and/or cost.
“The trend toward employee-owned devices isn’t saving IBM any money.” I would wager that it’s actually costing more. IBM has far more volume than the vast majority of companies, with which they no doubt negotiate best in class contracts with their vendors. For the employee owned devices, each user would pay for their own bill at much higher consumer rates, and expense it back to IBM. Even if a user expenses half of his bill, it’s probably still more than IBM would pay directly.
Monday, January 9, 2012
2012 is shaping up to be a challenging year for CIOs as they figure out how to safely embrace the slew of mobile devices entering their networks. Smartphones and tablets are seriously threatening the IT status quo, and CIOs who fail to adapt and get ahead of this technological upheaval risk getting pink slips and seeing themselves replaced by more agile colleagues.
Clearly, 2012 is the year that organizations of all shapes and sizes must come to terms with their mobile problem. Here are five serious mobile challenges CIOs will have to deal with in 2012… http://wireless.sys-con.com/node/2118812
There is so much happening with mobility in the enterprise, and it’s happening so quickly. We expect to see many more companies looking for outside help in the form of managed services, as it will be very difficult to keep up with all these demands.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
RIM announced yesterday that they are getting closer to launching Mobile Fusion, an extension of their Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) software that includes support for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It’s currently in beta testing, and their target release date is the end of March, 2012.
The Mobile Device Management software category has gotten crowded, with dozens of specialized vendors. Recently, IBM and Google also announced MDM offerings. Of course, RIM has the longest history of providing security and management software via their BES software, albeit only for their own Blackberry handsets.
RIM originally announced plans to offer support for Apple and Android devices earlier this spring, shortly after acquiring the German MDM firm, ubitexx. Initial demonstrations of the ubitexx/RIM product at Blackberry World were lackluster. Administrators were required to maintain two loosely integrated products: the traditional Blackberry-only BES and the new software for everything else.
The new BlackBerry Mobile Fusion software is intended to be a more integrated product, and more advanced. If RIM is able to release it in a timely manner, and if it is a well-designed product, they may be able to capture a significant share of the market. However, RIM’s recent history is plagued with widely missed release dates. If Mobile Fusion is released 3 or 6 months late, RIM risks losing even more relevancy.
Further, it will be important to release a quality product the first time around, otherwise the pure-play MDM software companies will gain further market share, making it more difficult for RIM to catch up.