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Get a Grip on Your Mobile Devices -- and Your Budget

Get a Grip on Your Mobile Devices -- and Your Budget

By Steve Shwartz

Now that Verizon is eliminating unlimited data plans, it’s easy to be apprehensive about how data costs may impact a small business bottom line. Many businesses are emotionally tied to unlimited data plans and find tiered data plans extremely daunting. But in reality, the tiered plan might prove beneficial. It will typically accommodate more than 95 percent of business users and could even deliver cost savings due to the lower price point.

What the Future Holds
Small businesses should start by talking to their account teams at Verizon Wireless about grandfathering in existing users with unlimited plans. In the meantime, remain patient. Data pooling (letting multiple users share data the same way they can currently share minutes) is expected to arrive on the scene soon, which will limit the risk of overages and associated charges.

Your business also should consider approaches that not only reduce costs, but also prevent them. Users are streaming data on mobile devices through a variety of avenues. This creates a more complex environment for managing mobile expenses, and so it is important to implement mobile device management (MDM) to limit capabilities. MDM can control applications and websites to ensure that use of video is avoided altogether.

Eliminate Unneeded Costs
When it comes to avoiding unnecessary data overages, MDM can support real-time telecom expense management (TEM) to keep costs in check. Mobile TEM will help keep costs down and prevent unnecessary expenses through monitoring and notifications. Look for a solution that provides automated alerts to users when they’re approaching usage minutes limits for both data and voice.

For many small businesses, unnecessary mobile expenses happen in two ways: overspending on wireless services and maintaining an undermanaged environment. For example, a common area of overspending occurs when all users are pulled in to unlimited voice plans, when in reality they are only consuming, say, 500 minutes on average. By not realizing employees’ usage trends, your company may be missing a significant savings opportunity. Undermanaged environments affect mobile spend by racking up fees, such as overage charges, roaming and unnecessary feature downloads.

In addition, an effective solution will uncover underutilized devices. It is common for companies to completely overlook inactive and out-of-commission devices, which rack up unnecessary costs.

From a rate perspective, most small businesses do not have enough volume to drive aggressive custom pricing. One way to circumvent this would be to enter into a group purchasing agreement that aggregates volume from multiple companies within the same industry. Even with group purchasing, carrier contract negotiation is essential and companies must be prepared before approaching the negotiating table.

Once the contract is complete, an efficient MDM solution will provide real-time alerts to help maintain the various clauses in the agreed contract. Many businesses lose out by agreeing to terms that fit their needs, but cannot be maintained moving forward. MDM ensures that activity matches contracts and allows for a timely resolution when users veer off course.

Be Transparent About Costs
It is important that you empower employees to achieve the benefits of mobility, such as increased productivity. At the same time, your business must strike a balance of control over the mobile devices brought into the corporate environment. Usage policy tends to be easily enforceable if employees fully understand the implications mobile usage has upon the company. Focus on promoting awareness across the whole business about the impact of data usage. Communicate usage and wireless costs, for example, to your employees on a monthly basis. It is an effective way to create visibility around usage policies and adjust employee behavior to comply.

Look for the Right Level of Mobility Management
Overwhelming market forces in the mobility space are building daily. There are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications available and millions of opportunities to spend money via a mobile device. A best-in-class device management product must scale effectively to provide the right level of mobility management for your company -- to offer the policy scope required by location, groups, device profiles and people. The right MDM platform enables the unique ways that you operate your business with effective device management, security and mobility management.

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Steve Shwartz

is the CTO of Tangoe Inc., a global provider of communications lifecycle management software and related services.

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