Making Sense of Mobile Life Cycle Management

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By Hyoun Park

Mobile life cycle management (MLM) represents the opportunity to fully support the organizational need for enterprise mobility. There have been many trendy terms associated with mobility including BYOD, MDM, MAM and WEM, but these terms have confused both the real issues that companies face in managing mobility and the real opportunities that channel partners have in providing solutions for enterprises.

At a high level, mobile life cycle management is a holistic approach to facilitating cost management, support and security issues associated with mobile employees. Currently, end-user organizations struggle to integrate all of these issues into a single mobile policy and often use approaches that take care of one aspect of mobility but weaken other business policies in the process. One of the most common examples of this approach is in the support of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which has been misrepresented both as a panacea and the enemy of enterprise IT. 

BYOD simply refers to the ownership of the device, rate plans, and associated services and applications. In and of itself, BYOD can be cost-effective and secure, or it can bring a flood of unmanaged and noncompliant technology that increases the cost structure of mobility based on corporate policies.

To better understand the opportunities for MLM both within corporate-liable and BYOD-based organizations, consider six different aspects of MLM: expense management, device management, application management, document and information management, network management and virtualization.

Wireless Expense Management (WEM). WEM allows organizations to track inventory, service orders and invoices associated with direct mobility costs. Considering that the average revenue per user (ARPU) for AT&T and Sprint for consumer accounts is approaching $65 per month and that corporate users typically have additional data, roaming and application licenses associated with their phone, these costs can approach 0.5 percent of a company’s revenues. That means a company with 4,000 employees and a billion dollars in annual revenue could be spending $5 million per year just on mobile devices and rate plans.

These costs can hit the company’s bottom line regardless of whether the devices are owned by the company or by the end user, since a majority of BYOD deployments are supported with some form of expense report that covers most or all of the employee’s mobile costs. When WEM is implemented on a corporate-liable account, the opportunities to consolidate and optimize rate plans, rationalize devices, control international roaming and support bulk purchases typically can support a one-time cost reduction of 10-15 percent for an unmanaged environment. The ongoing visibility also can support an ongoing 1-2 percent savings annually based on auditing errors and the ability to use this information to renegotiate contracts. For a billion-dollar organization with a corporate-liable mobility initiative, WEM can represent an immediate million-dollar opportunity. But even with BYOD, organizations still potentially can use WEM to track expenses, optimize expense report processes, negotiate contracts in bulk and optimize rate plans, but the ability to drive down costs is more limited because of the fragmented nature of BYOD and the inability to fully manage employee behavior and procurement practices. Companies including Tangoe, IBM Emptoris, Asentinel, Telesoft, Comview, Mobilsense, WidePoint, MDSL and Quickcomm provide cost management solutions in this area.

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