Mobile Telecom Shifting Yet Again

Julie Stafford, SVP Strategic Consulting, Tangoe
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Julie Stafford, SVP Strategic Consulting, Tangoe

How CIOs Can Manage and Control Costs of Changing Equipment and Rate Plans

Get ready for another major shift in the way corporations manage their mobile telecommunications and costs. CIOs are beginning to move away from purchasing subsidized mobile devices from their wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T Wireless and realizing the advantages of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) where organizations can buy unlocked corporate smartphones directly from equipment manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, garner rate plan credits and eliminate Early Termination Fees (ETFs).

This is all part of an evolution where mobile carriers, who have been forced by the device manufacturers to purchase volumes of devices that can be difficult to sell, are encouraging corporations to consider bringing their own corporate liable devices to the carrier. With this evolution, the smartphone manufacturers can now sell equipment directly to the corporate market (New York Times) presenting an opportunity for simplification of mobile procurement, deployment and management.

This latest shift in corporate mobile communications management presents a number of challenges for CIOs, who need to carefully formulate a strategy that maximizes the value of their mobile telecommunications across the enterprise. Yet dealing with multiple equipment manufacturers, carriers and a disparate group of corporate end-users is no easy or simple task. That’s where outsourced “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) comes in.

MaaS is a similar concept to Software as a Service (SaaS) that has revolutionized corporate IT departments, providing flexibility and scalability to enterprise customers. MaaS enables companies to outsource the management and budget control of their mobile devices, carrier plans, security, and mobile logistics, enabling them to focus on their core business goals. With MaaS, a CIO can centralize the company’s mobile technology oversight to make sure that the business is enabled and the budget is optimized.

 MaaS gives CIOs the opportunity to secure, centralize and manage costs around the globe much more effectively 

MaaS should be viewed as a corporate best practice. It enables CIOs to select the optimum equipment, carrier and rate plan and reduce corporate security risks – all managed through a single service provider. MaaS can reduce or eliminate variability in mobile costs and can enable CIOs to take back the control and security rigor that was lost in a BYOD practice, usually at a lower cost to the business than a stipend.

A carrier-agnostic MaaS offering provides full control over applications loaded on the device, corporate data and security for less than most BYOD stipends – and it comes with an unlocked device that allows an end user to change carriers without an early termination fee. When viewed across a large enterprise, this can mean $millions in savings.

As is common in the industry, the mobile telecommunications industry is quickly changing. The key mobility trends that CIOs are now confronting are:

  1. Most companies suffer from mobile policies that are obsolete or do not apply to mobile consumption today
  2. Carriers are moving toward incentivizing relationships between corporate buyers and equipment manufacturers
  3. Companies are looking at alternatives to employee BYOD and stipends that provide greater control over security and corporate data, but maintain cost efficiencies.

CIOs must be adaptable, thinking for the first time about relationships with smartphone manufacturers. MaaS gives them the leverage they need to demand reliable devices that last longer than the next over-hyped “upgrade”. Carrier-agnostic MaaS allows companies to switch from carrier to carrier without penalty and to repurpose a smartphone without being subject to an early termination fee. And from a global perspective, MaaS gives CIOs the opportunity to secure, centralize and manage costs around the globe much more effectively.

MaaS disrupts classic management style and many CIOs are now realizing that it is enabling a much more controlled environment. As one CIO recently told me: “This was not so much about money. The savings are great but if this service had a higher cost I still would have wanted to do it because of it’s so easy and consistent. I want to take the guesswork out of what we’re giving our users and make it easier.”

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